Advent Devotional Book 2009

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					                         Advent Devotional Book

Thank you for picking up a copy of this year’s Advent Devotional Book which
was written by the Preteen Ministry of First Baptist Church. We pray that this
book will richly bless your Christmas season.

                              Merry Christmas!
                       Monday, November 30, 2009

How many of us would love to have an opportunity to experience Christmas
through the eyes of a child again? The Christmas season was always for me
one of wonder, excitement, and pure unadulterated joy! I loved getting up very
early or staying up late, when no one else was up, to gaze upon the sparking
lights of the Christmas tree. It was a perfect time for reflecting, and all of the
world’s cares seemed infinitely far away.

This year, it seems that the world’s cares have multiplied and come crashing
down around us. Economic challenges threaten to stifle our Christmas joy and
fill us with worry and dread instead of wonder. What a perfect time to once
again view Christmas through adolescent eyes. I have the privilege of joining
with our 4th and 5th grade preteens, who have written the Advent devotionals
for 2009. They seek to refresh our hearts and help us escape back into the
wonder of Christmas. Let their words encourage your heart and fill you with
the joyous Spirit of Christmas.

Matthew 11:25 At the time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and
revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Amanda Howard
                       Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In my town of Gulf Breeze, it is really warm. So I don’t know how baby Jesus
dressed during the days that the nativity scene happened. I know they did not
have parkas, but what did they wear? The answer is in Luke 2: 12- This will be
a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

November 1st of each year is an exciting time at our house. For our family it is
the beginning of the Christmas season. For generations on this day, the old
comforters are removed and the new, festive Christmas Covers are put on each
bed. This small, seemingly insignificant chore brings on an atmosphere of
warmth and happiness to everyone. Other extended family, friends and even
babysitters have adopted this tradition to share in the true wonder of
Christmas. It is hard to imagine the anticipation and joy of the children seeing
their beds adorned in bright Christmas colors and symbols. Moods and
attitudes are changed for the better, if only temporarily, by this sign
announcing the arrival of the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Our whole family is reminded of the love and grace of
Jesus and the holy time we are about to enter. The
wonderful food will come later, the tree may be a few
weeks away, the presents, the parties and the actual
day may still be a couple of months out, but on this
day all is right with the world. Our family is together
for one more Christmas and the Lord has smiled on
us. Now, more than any other time, we thank God for
blessing our family and we renew our commitment to
serve Him and to be better Christians. We know there
will be times in the future of troubles and tests and
turmoil…but today, with our new Christmas covers, all
is well. We are together as a family.

Emma Allison
Eddie and Leslie Allison
                      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jesus has many names but at Christmas we usually think about Jesus as a
little boy. It’s neat to think that the little baby in Bethlehem would grow up to
be the Lord Isaiah had talked about years before. Wonderful. Mighty God.
Eternal Father. Prince of Peace. That is who Jesus is.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he
will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21        Long before we had our
first child, we had a “boy name” and a “girl name” picked out. For several
years we anticipated the day that we would be able to name that child. In
God’s perfect timing, “Matthew” was born, followed closely by “Michael” and
“Mitchell.” God also had a plan to send His son into the world in His perfect
timing. The Prophet Isaiah told of God’s plan to send His son and said that
God already had a name picked out for the baby who would save us from our
sins. His plan shows how much God loves each one of us. He provided a way
for us to come to Him – a baby named “Jesus.” As you reflect on the birth of
Jesus and enjoy the Christmas season, take time to thank God for sending his
son so that you may have eternal life with the King of King, the Lord of Lord,
the Wonderful Counselor and Almighty God.

Matthew Keyes
Jeff and Marydean Keyes
                       Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Christmas means to me… to remember that it is Jesus’ birthday and that
He is our Savior. He died on the cross just for us. It is a time to spend with
your family and friends. On Christmas Day, we go to Alabama where some of
my family lives. We read the Christmas story out of Luke chapter two. We also
make a birthday cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus.

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. Luke 1:30-32

For Christians, Christmas is the faith in God and His plan for our lives. It is a
plan that began with His Son coming to live on earth and begin His ministry
from which we learn the greatest issues of life. Christmas is God’s greatest
gift… His Son!

Natalie Turner
Alan and Kim Turner
                         Friday, December 4, 2009

Every Christmas, each member of my family puts a
nativity in their room. At night when we say our prayers,
we bring out our manger and we say a special prayer
about Christmas. Since I was born, we have always
asked Santa to put our baby Jesus character in the
manger. On Christmas morning, we look in our mangers
and take out baby Jesus. Our family thinks of it as a
symbol that Jesus is always with us. Merry Christmas!

Each year as we approach Christmas, our Nativity scenes
play an important part of our celebration of Christ’s birth.
We have several Nativity sets. Our Advent calendar helps
construct the Nativity scene as we progress though the month. Each child has
their own set in their room and we have a family Nativity set in the foyer that
Santa places baby Jesus in the manger every Christmas morning. We even
have a Nativity scene for our front yard. All these locations help us share the
true meaning of Christmas with others.

The Nativity is special to us for several reasons. First, the characters come from
all walks of life and remind us that Jesus came for everyone. His birth
occurred in the stable because the world had no room for (rejected) Him. The
Kings visit represents the acknowledgement that Jesus is the King of all Kings.
And most importantly, God sent His son, Jesus, to earth as a human being to
bring us the message that He loves us all and has prepared the way for us to
be with Him for eternity in Heaven.

God is indeed with us on Christmas morning and every day of the year!

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and
will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 NIV

Kathryn Kizziah
John and Lori Kizziah
                      Saturday, December 5, 2009

Every year I go to my grandparent’s home in Texas for Christmas. We play lots
of games on our way. The long trip we take to Texas is like the long trip Mary
and Joseph took to Bethlehem. I wonder what they talked about. I t might
have been about Mary being pregnant or the angel that came to them. One
year we made a birthday cake for Jesus. On Christmas, always remember to
say happy birthday to Jesus.

It is easy to imagine why Maddi would equate traveling for Christmas with the
travel of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Each year since her birth, we pack up
the Suburban and make the annual pilgrimage to see Mimi and Granddad in
the promised land of Texas. At times, the trip was long and tiring. Including,
three long trips from California. No matter the sacrifice, the trip is always
worth the cost because the people we love the most are waiting when we arrive.
Although the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was much shorter, just 80 miles,
it would have been an extremely challenging trip. Tradition has it that Mary,
because she was heavily pregnant, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked. A fit
man leading a donkey could have travelled perhaps 20 miles a day. However,
Mary nearing baby Jesus’ birth would require more than 4 days. Maybe a week
would have been required to make the journey. Mommies, can you imagine a
week on a donkey to arrive just in time to give birth? Before there were angels
singing, wise men with gifts, and a baby in the manger, there was a long hard
journey. So, this year as you travel home for Christmas, whether across town
or across country, give thanks for Mary, a young Jewish girl, who carried the
hope of the world on the long journey to
Bethlehem. Luke 2: 1-6

Maddi Stennett
Darren and Leann Stennett
                       Sunday, December 6, 2009

This is the nativity scene where Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph had to
travel a long way to get to Bethlehem. It was a very important time when Jesus
was born. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

When I was a little girl, Christmas was my favorite time of the year because
Santa would always visit my house on Christmas Eve and leave a bundle of
presents under the tree. I was always focused on the presents and “me, me,
me!” As I got older and began doing projects like Operation Christmas Child
and Angel Tree, I began to realize that Christmas isn’t all about what I wanted
from Santa. It was about helping people and sharing the news of Christ with
them. Galatians 4:4-5 say, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His
Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we
might receive the full rights as sons.” Now, Christmas, for me, has a totally
new meaning and one that I hope everyone comes to know.

Cowboy and Eden Gafford
                      Monday, December 7, 2009

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to
Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of
David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to
him and was expecting a child. Luke 2: 4-5

It is my hope that many years from now, my children will look back and
remember the Christmas Season as fondly as I remember Christmases from my
youth. My Christmases were ones that were always a combination of warm
and cold. I remember the warmth of the radiator heat in my grandparent’s
home and the cold of central Alabama’s weather. I remember the warm smell
of my grandfather’s coffee and the cold tiles on my feet.

The Christmas season always held warm family smiles and warm turkey
dinners mixed with cold and wet grass where we stood to see the manger scene
at the city park. Christmas was, and still is, my favorite time of the year.

Reid Thompson
Jim Thompson
                        Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What memories we have made over the years. Jim and I had been married for
10 years before the birth of our first son James. For us, it was like Christmas
in March of 1996. We knew that we had been blessed with one of the greatest
gift we would ever receive. I felt like a child again. I stood in “awe” of the
bundle of joy that I held daily. We were able to experience that “awe” again in
February of 2000 with the birth of our second son, Robert.

During the Christmas season, as a family we stand in “awe” celebrating the
greatest gift given to mankind, the birth of Jesus. There is such innocence in
our children and a wonder in their eyes. They are in “awe” of the many events
and traditions that surround the season... the excitement of singing in the
Children’s Christmas Choir specials when they were very young, attending the
White Christmas event, participating in “Operation Shoebox”, picking an angel
off the Angel tree, delivering gifts to those less fortunate, attending Carol’s by
Candlelight, riding around looking at the Christmas lights - these activities
shape our holiday season. Through the eyes of our children we are able to
grasp the simplicity of the season. Watching our children as they come to fully
understand the “reason for the season” blesses us each year. May we all
celebrate the birth of Jesus through the simplicity, wonder and innocence that
only a child can have.

Robert McGhee
Jim and Tina McGhee
                      Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My favorite Christmas was when I was nine. I got a lot of presents and hugs. I
gave a present to my little sister, Taylor, and she loved it. The toy that I gave
her was a saddle for her toy horse.

I don’t think that Jesus had a little sister, but if he did, he probably would have
given her a present and hugs too. A big brother is supposed to do that
sometimes. Maybe I’ll even give her a hug again this Christmas.

…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23b

Ryan Greene
                     Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have special pockets on our stockings that we used to put notes in. We
write a note to Jesus telling Him what we are going to work on for the next
year. Sometimes we tell Him we will try to be more truthful, to be better about
sharing or to be more faithful at reading the Bible.

We leave notes in the pockets for the next year. While we hang our stockings,
we like to look at the notes left from the past year and look back at what we
have done. So this Christmas, we want to encourage you to be reminded that
God’s truth helps us to remember to always be faithful to Him.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are
firmly established in the truth you now have. 2 Peter 1:12

Anna Johnson
                         Friday, December 11, 2009

One of my families’ favorite things to do during the holidays is to watch
Christmas movies. At the top of the list is Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
Recently I watched this movie with the preteens as we prepared to write
devotions for the advent book. I was reminded of what a wonderful meaning
this movie shares! As you recall, Charlie Brown is having a difficult time
finding the Christmas spirit. He is frustrated with how commercial Christmas
has become. Lucy tries to help by giving him a job of directing the Christmas
play. In typical Charlie Brown fashion, things don’t go well. He is sent to buy
a Christmas tree and comes back with a scrawny little tree and becomes a
laughing stock. Poor Charlie Brown. This moment is the highlight of the movie
when Charlie goes on to explain the true meaning of Christmas. He beautifully
tells how an infant was born that changed the world forever.

Christmas is approaching, and I find myself feeling a little “Charlie Brownish.”
I find myself worrying about how to make the holiday perfect for my
family…from the decorations to finding the perfect gifts for those I love. I find
myself wondering and worrying about fitting in all the “fun” holiday events and
if our Christmas decorations will light up the neighborhood. Talk about being
frustrated with a commercial Christmas! Wow! It seems like things easily get
out of control and completely unfocused on the precious gift and true meaning
of Christmas. The gift given to us may seem a little “rugged”-just like that little
tree that Charlie Brown found. The gift given to us that night was born in a
stable with animals and surrounded with hay. It wasn’t wrapped in a big bow
with shiny paper. It wasn’t put under a beautifully decorated tree. But the gift
God gave to us was and is the perfect gift.

During this season of advent, I pray that we can have a “Charlie Brown”
Christmas….a Christmas where we focus on Jesus…a simple Christmas where
we appreciate and accept the precious gift given to us. Don’t be surprised if
you see a scrawny tree limb with a few lights shining from my house this year.
It may not light up the neighborhood,
but it will be a reminder to me of
beauty that comes from the love of our
Father in the form of a tiny baby
named Jesus.

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus.” Romans 3:23b

“Every good and perfect gift is from
above.” James 1:17a

Amy Roby
                        Saturday, December 12, 2009

My family always opens our presents and then we go to my grandparent’s
house to eat breakfast. This year will be fun to have my dad with us.

This Christmas, our family is especially thankful to have Brian home this year.
Last year, he was serving our country in Afghanistan. What an amazing gift to
have our family all together again this year. As we go into the holiday season,
let us remember how important it is to spend time with our precious family and
how God shared His family with us so we could be with Him in eternity.

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Adam Ezell
Brian and Lorie Ezell
                       Sunday, December 13, 2009

My niece Katie has always loved music. Even as a small child she was
fascinated with the choir and would always sit up tall to see what would
happen when Bob Morrison stood to conduct. One Christmas Eve during the
Carols & Candles service, Katie sat up tall as the music started and then she
twisted and moved back and forth in the pew. She turned toward me with a
very concerned look on her little face and said “Uncle Mike, where is that
man?” I replied “What man Katie?”, and then she began to move her hand like
a conductor and said “That man what dos this; they won’t know what to do
without him.”

This Christmas season be thankful that God chose to send His son to earth; we
truly would not know what to do with out Him.

Thank you Father for sending your Son to save a lost world, and thank you for
people like Bob Morrison, Tina Helms, and Sean & Amy Roby who faithfully lead
us in worshiping you each week.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their
peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:40

Mike Hudson
                       Monday, December 14, 2009

My favorite Christmas tradition is my mom’s
corn chowder with bacon. She serves it every
Christmas Eve. It is my favorite Christmas
dish. My pictures are of the star that helped
the shepherds and wisemen get to baby Jesus.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I
bring you good news of great joy that will be for
all the people.” Luke 2:10

Christmas at the Myers house incorporates traditions from both of Phillip's
parents' families. Most of them do have to do with food. Our Christmas Eve
supper after church comes from the Gannon’s. They always had something
trendy and new, like smoked salmon appetizers or Pepperidge Farm tailgating
sandwiches, combined with an old favorite, like pimento cheese party
sandwiches cut into triangles with the crusts cut off or a big bowl of peanuts.
One year, Magee (Phillip's maternal grandmother) copied the entire brunch
buffet from a local restaurant, right down to the fried chicken fingers and grits
casserole. From the Myers we learned that a prefixed, overnight breakfast
casserole is a good way to prevent anyone from being in the kitchen while the
                            fun is going on. You can even leave the muffins out
                            on the tray, covered with plastic wrap for easy
                            access. This helps get rid of the shakes you get
                            when you eat too much chocolate early in the
                            morning. We are thankful that both families taught
                            Phillip's parents that Christmas is best celebrated
                            with a worship service and communion. They all
                            knew that man didn't live by party sandwiches
                            alone, but by the living testimony of God's love to
                            the earth. We are trying to honor them by passing
this tradition on down to their grandchildren.

Phillip Myers
John and Ginger Myers
                       Tuesday, December 15, 2009

                         One of my favorite Christmas traditions is coming to the
                         candle light service on Christmas Eve. I love singing all
                         of the Christmas carols and worshiping Jesus. Another
                         one of my favorite Christmas traditions is every day in
                         December we add people to the nativity scene, like the
                         angels, shepherds, wisemen, Mary and Joseph. Every
                         day we add one of those people until Christmas day
                         when it makes a full picture. I also love getting together
                         with my family on Christmas Eve. My cousins and I all
                         get together, play and eat a lot of turkey and desserts. I
                         love putting up decorations on the Christmas tree and
                         waiting for Santa to come on Christmas day with our
gifts. But, the greatest gift of all was Jesus Christ. When I think of Christmas,
I think of Jesus and how He loves us.

The Christmas Season at the Hill house usually arrives the day after
Halloween! Our kids instinctively know what is coming next and their
thoughts turn to Christmas. Even this year, they pulled out “Frosty” to watch
as Halloween weekend wrapped up and a “cold spell” came upon us! We have
several traditions from caroling, going to the Melting Pot, baking a birthday
cake for Jesus, riding the Holly Jolly Trolly, Hallie’s Christmas Eve lunch date
with daddy, and then the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Through the eyes
of our children, the entire Holiday Season is a magical, merry time-filled with
special moments, lots of food, and family.            For them, Christmas just
“happens”. They don’t feel the stress of shopping, cooking, decorating, giving,
scheduling, planning class parties, making all those traditions “happen”, and
on and on. They just know it is a special, sacred time that happens once a
year. And they enjoy every moment! Thinking about this, and feeling a little
anxious about all the frenzy that is about to start, made me stop and realize
that it is just like that with our loving God. He delights in us! While we fret
and worry, He desires for us to simply rest in Him, realizing the joy that comes
when we know that He is in control- allowing HIM to have control. He is far big
enough to handle all our cares and to carry every load. How He must smile
when we live in peace and joy, even amidst our struggles.

This year, we are trying to “simplify”. (I think we say that every year!) But it
does seem different this year. As we look to Jesus, we are overwhelmed with
gratitude for what He did for us, and what He continues to do for us through
His Holy Spirit. We wish you peace, joy, and rest this year!

Hayden Hill
Tripp and Susan Hill
                     Wednesday, December 16, 2009

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth
to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7

No room in the inn! You’ve got to be kidding! How could God have overlooked
this important detail on the very night His Son was to be born? God had
planned this event since the foundation of the world and He doesn’t make
mistakes! In Jesus’ time, an inn was not like the Holiday Inn where each
couple or family had their own room, bed and private bath. The rooms were
large and very crowded- especially now because of the senses decree. Perhaps
the men and women would be in separate rooms so Mary and Joseph would
have been pulled apart. Jesus would have been born in a noisy room filled
with strangers who had no clue that this was an extremely important child
being born. This was the child who would change the destiny of all people-

The stable offered a different environment- one of privacy and peace. The
cattle, sheep and donkeys would make so commotion as they provided warmth
from their bodies. I imagine doves were cooing in the rafters to complete the
scene. This scared young couple shared secret knowledge that our Holy Lord
was delivering salvation and hope for all mankind through an innocent baby
named Jesus this very night. They needed their privacy and needed each

When the shepherds came to worship the
baby, it was a welcome affirmation for this
couple that God had used them both to
accomplish His holy plan to save all people
from their sins. What joy and wonder must
have filled their hearts. This is the same
promise that He makes to us. He provided
everything they needed, and everything we
need, with a bonus of great joy in the
simplest of circumstances.

This year, let us encourage each other to keep it simple. The angels sang for
joy when they shared the good news of Christ being born. The shepherds
worshiped Him giving Him their hearts. Mary and Joseph submitted their lives
to God’s Will which allowed them to experience unbounded joy in knowing God
was using them to accomplish His plan. Let us go and do likewise.

Terry Knight
                     Thursday, December 17, 2009

                            This is my brother Christopher. He was born
                            on Christmas Day. I bet that was my mom’s
                            favorite Christmas present! She named him
                            Chris because it was short for Christ and
                            Christmas. He was the greatest Christmas
                            present our family ever received. Even though
                            he is mean every now and then, he is, and
                            always will be, my brother.

                            John and I always wanted a large family. We
                            had 5 wonderful children, still there was
                            something missing. After moving to Florida I
                            knew that I wanted to make a difference in the
                            lives of other children. This is when we started
                            our journey as Foster parents. We started with
                            one, and at times we have had 3 infants at
                            once. Our door was always open when a child
                            needed a home. I guess you could say, "There
                            has always been room in our inn." We have
                            had 22 babies in 3 years in our home, and I
                            have been the one blessed and my life changed
                            because of this wonderful opportunity that God
                            has allowed us to be a part of.

Anna Gary
John and Lori Gary
                        Friday, December 18, 2009

My favorite Christmas memory is going to China to bring home my little sister,
Caroline. Her biological mom left her outside of a shopping mall. She was
wrapped in a woman’s coat in a box. The police found her and took her to an
orphanage along with thousands of other babies. Caroline spent a whole year
in a hard crib and walker. She was meant for our family. I love her so much
and could not imagine life without her. She is a part of our family.

                                       Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will
                                       bring your children from the east and
                                       gather you from the west. Bring my
                                       sons from afar and my daughters from
                                       the ends of the earth. Isaiah 43:5-6b

                                        It was the perfect plan- Shawn, myself,
                                        a dog and two children.      We were
                                        content and happy. That’s when God
                                        stepped in with His plan. All of the
                                        sudden, there was an aching in my
                                        heart for another child. Not just any
child, but a child from China. This ache would not go away which lead me to
pray for God to show me a sign that this was His plan. When you ask for a
sign, be ready to receive it! There were signs everywhere. Shawn was not so
quick to get on board with this idea but did agree to attend an adoption
meeting with me. After this meeting, he was also ready to look further into the
possibility of a China adoption. After two years of endless paperwork and
waiting, Shawn and I, along with Ella Kate and Will, traveled to China to meet
and bring home our beautiful daughter. Xu Hong Hong became Caroline Li
Finley. We arrived home with Caroline on December 25, 2006. What a
Christmas miracle! What a perfect gift from God!

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into
prosperity. Psalm 68: 5-6a

This is a perfect picture of what God has done for each of us. He has made us
His children through Christ Jesus and it all started with the birth of a baby at
Christmas. There’s no gift more perfect than that! Merry Christmas!

Ella Kate Finley
Shawn and Brittany Finley
                     Saturday, December 19, 2009

The best thing about Christmas to me is spending time with my family. I
mean, getting presents is great, but spending time with family and God while
celebrating Jesus birth is the best thing of all. Every Christmas my brother,
Austin, and I wake up early and run to get my parents up so that we can start
the day celebrating together. My parents take pictures to capture some of the
excitement of us giving each other gifts.

Sometime after lunch, we go over to my grandparents’ house to meet up with
my aunts, uncles and cousins. This is always exciting because everyone brings
something new they got for Christmas to play with and share. Later on, we sit
down to eat the delicious meal that my mom, my aunts and my Nana have
worked together to make just for us. We usually have cranberry sauce, turkey,
ham and lots other foods and deserts that they have made to share. After
eating, we sit down together in one big room while my PawPaw reads the
Christmas story from the Bible. We then celebrate and exchange the gifts that
we have brought for each other. This all reminds me of the first Christmas
when the wise men traveled to see baby Jesus with his family and gave him
gifts to celebrate his birth.

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary
His Mother and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened
their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

Alexis Elaine Van Norman
                       Sunday, December 20, 2009

At Christmas I hang M&M lights. I say they are sweet and so is Jesus. We
travel to Utah where we get to go out skiing for a week. I also sit and listen to
my aunt’s music. She sings gospel music. She sings great music. I love my
aunt. The gift of singing is just one of the many gifts that God gives to us.
Jesus is the best gift we could ever ask for. On December 27th, I killed a buck.
I really wanted a big deer and when I shot the deer I really praised God. God
could give you any gift. All you have to do is ask him.

Christmas at our house is an exciting time filled with wonder and anticipation.
The children are excited about the birth of Jesus and the opportunity to tell the
story. All three of our children have memorized the entire story from Luke 2 for
school and they love to recite the passages. The unquestioning belief and
sincerity of children warms our heart and reminds us of the true meaning of

Wesley Hatsfelt
Michael and Kristy Hatsfelt
                       Monday, December 21, 2009

                                                           We always remember
                                                           the wisemen by gifts
                                                           they    brought     to
                                                           Jesus. One of the
                                                           things I look forward
                                                           to at Christmas time
                                                           is the gift giving in
                                                           my family.        One
                                                           Christmas I gave my
                                                           dad    a    GPS    for
                                                           Christmas. He loved
                                                           it!    The wisemen
                                                           didn’t have a GPS to
                                                           find Jesus.

On coming to the house, they 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

Advent brings about thoughts of gifts. We give and receive many gifts this time
of year but none compare to the gifts from God. He gives us the gift of life here
on earth and offers us the gift of eternal life with Him. While we are here on
earth, He gives us many other gifts. None can compare to the gift of family.
God blessed us with two wonderful girls on February 8, 2000 and April 27,
2003. As I watch them grow, I realize more and more the greatness of the gift.
Having children brings more insight into God's unconditional love for us and a
love that no life circumstance can take away. It is a love that is constant and
strong and brings a bond between the giver and receiver. We thank God for
our two gifts and pray they will receive His gift and walk with Him forever.

Morgan Neal
Bart and Stacy Neal
                       Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Even though the sheep may have a silly
smile, I think he knew that he was looking
at his creator.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and
on earth and under the earth and on the
sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To
him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

Do you ever wonder what leaving heaven was like for Jesus? As I am writing, I
stopped and pondered… and I came to the conclusion that I don’t have a clue.
One moment all heaven is worshiping Jesus’ glory and the next moment Jesus
was a baby in a manger. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind.

I tried to remember the biggest celebration of my life. For me, it was a football
game. Clay and I were on the sidelines of the 0-33 West Florida Jaguars. They
had not won a game in three years, but tonight we were going to win. The
excitement was building! As the final seconds clicked down, the crowd poured
on the field; running, screaming, a pandemonium of pure happiness. It went on
and on… no one wanted to leave and lose the moment. For me, this feeling
was a glimpse of heaven’s joy, peace and happiness.

So, why would Jesus give up the glory of heaven? The answer is simple “the
sacrifice is worth the reward.” Jesus knew by lowering himself and becoming a
child in a manger, he was making it possible for eternity with God. “Then I
heard every creature in heaven and on earth… singing: be praise and honor
and glory and power, forever and ever!" Try to remember the happiest moment
in your life. Now imagine; eternity with God is going to be a million times
cooler. As you see the manger this Christmas, remember the sacrifice was
worth the reward. Revelation 5: 13

Clay Stennett
Darren and Leann Stennett
                    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For God so loved the world that he
gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. John

Christmas is the season to praise
the Lord!

“For God so loved the world…..”
Which means you. And me. And
the little boy on the other side of
the world who doesn’t sound like me when he prays. And the older lady who
sits next to me at church sometimes who has known God a lot longer than I

“He gave His only begotten Son….” Like a gift. God thought about you and
me and came up with the best present ever….His son. He gave us this gift
before we even knew we could ask for something. He knew exactly what He
was doing when He sent this gift to us. When He chose to send us the gift of a
baby, He gave the world the chance to really get to know Him better….through
knowing Jesus as a baby, a little boy and a young man. He gave us this gift
and asks very little in return.

“That whosoever believes in Him…” Mary and Joseph believed. The
shepherds believed. The wisemen believed. The angels believed. I believe.

“Will not perish but have everlasting life.” Because God so creatively and
specifically sent his son to us, we can choose to accept His love, His gift. We
can choose to believe in Him now and forever. We can spend forever singing
with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Will Lankford
Ross and Jeanna Lankford
                    Thursday, December 24, 2009

C    is for Christ who came into this world
H    is for His love- why He came from above.
R    is for redeemer who saves us from our sin.
I    is for Isaiah a prophet long before.
S    is for Savior who Jesus truly is.
T    is for Truth that Jesus told.
M    is for memories we all know and love.
A    is for all who love him true and dear.
S    is for sorrow when Jesus left the world, but we know some day He will
     return again because He loves us all.

Ally Blankenship
                        Friday, December 25, 2009

In a Christmas Bible study some years ago, we were asked to use each letter of
the word C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S, and to share some event or key word that we
associate with the birth of Christ. Joyful and hopeful words and phrases were
exclaimed: Christ, Hope, Rejoice, Immanuel, Shepherds, Mary, Angels, Singing.
The word, Ramah, came to my mind for the letter R. Is this word often a term
that we readily think of in regard to the Christmas narrative? Are there any
Christmas carols about Rachel weeping?

We know the story well, how Herod found out that the Wise Men from the East
had deceived him and not come back to tell him where to find the Messiah. In
a rage, he had all of the baby boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were two
years old and younger murdered. Matthew 2:17-18: Then what was said
through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping
and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be
comforted, because they are no more.”

It is easy to think of the birth of Christ as a wholly joyful event, full of angel
singing and shepherd bliss. And for us it certainly is a season of pure hope
and happiness, for the Savior of the world has arrived on the scene to save us.
But, we should always remember the sacrifices and suffering that made that
pivotal and earth-shaking event possible. Many little boys of Bethlehem never
got to see their third birthdays, and their mothers and fathers refused all

But, their tragic sacrifice is not the end. Because of Christmas, and because of
Jesus willing sacrifice 30-something years later, all of these little boys are with
God in heaven, and their mothers and fathers find comfort at last. This is the
hope and expectation we all have, that despite the sacrifices and hardships of
this life, we get to spend now through eternity with God. What a wonderful
reason to worship the new-born King!

Amanda Howard