Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas

The days after Christmas can sometimes be kind of a let-down after so much activity. I especially feel this on the years when Daniel leaves to go to his dad's house on Christmas afternoon through New Year's Day afternoon. But, I have decided to make a conscious effort to "choose joy" and to look for ways to spend the time doing things that make me happy.

Here are some of the things I like to do over the Christmas holidays, after the gifts are opened and the hubbub has died down:

  • Sit in the living room by the Christmas tree and read a Christmas novel. Right now, I'm reading A Christmas Visitor, one of the Cape Light Christmas books by Thomas Kinkade and Catherine Spencer. Some of my other favorites are: Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon, Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn, The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
  • Add new Christmas pictures to my scrapbook (that usually doesn't happen until later in January)
  • Play board games with my family (some of our faves are Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Mexican Train Dominoes, Phase 10, Uno)
  • Go back through Christmas cards that we received (and go read the Christmas cards/letters that my parents received at their house from long-time family friends)

What are some of your favorite things to do over the Christmas holidays? What books do you like to read at this time of year? If your family likes to play games, what are your tried-and-true favorites? What are some ways that you choose joy at this time of year?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Advent: Day Twenty-five

Merry Christmas! The ornament for today is a nativity scene, symbolizing the birth of Jesus. This morning, Daniel and I shared the Jesse Tree devotion with our family as we sat in our living room around our Christmas tree. Daniel read the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2 and then I shared the devotional message and prayer. It was a special time for our family to celebrate Jesus' birth and to think about the true reason that we have a holiday on December 25th.

I am glad that I chose to do the Advent Jesse Tree on my blog this year and I appreciate the encouragement I received from those who made comments. I hope that your Advent experience this year has brought you closer to the One who's birth we celebrate. May none of us be the same because of our encounter with the Prince of Peace!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Advent: Day Twenty-four

The twenty-fourth ornament is an angel, which symbolizes the angels that proclaimed the coming of Christ. An angel is a messenger and usually is sent to tell good news. The angels that proclaimed the coming of Christ got the best job angels could get. They got to tell the best news of all time: Christ is born!

But their job didn't stop there, or maybe it was just a benefit they received from doing their job well. After they told the good news that Christ was born, they broke out in praises to God, saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on

whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:14

Thankfully, although the shepherds were the first to hear the good news, God has allowed all of us to hear it as well. We can also sing praises to God for this wonderful gift of His son, Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve Gift!!!!

There is a Ryals family tradition that on Christmas Eve, if you're the first person to say "Christmas Eve Gift" to someone, that person is supposed to give you a gift on Christmas Eve. I asked my dad where it started, but he jokingly said, "In the old country", which basically means he doesn't know. :-)

I can remember doing this from way back when I was a little girl, but I can't remember anyone actually following through on the gift. The main thing is that we all just try and be the first person to say it. My Uncle Randel gets really into it and even calls one of his brothers right after midnight on December 24th to try and say it first. My parents, and maybe my sister, are known to answer the phone saying "Christmas Eve Gift" on December 24th. Of course, with Caller ID, I can know who's calling and make sure I don't say it to someone who doesn't know what's going on. This morning, I sent a text to my sister that said, "Christmas Eve Gift!!!" Let's see if that gets to count!

My mom did start letting us open one present on Christmas Eve when we were little girls, though. I think that we probably were being relentless with our asking to open gifts that night instead of waiting for Christmas morning, which has been our family's tradition. So, Mom began getting us new Christmas nightgowns (or pj's) each year and would let us open those on Christmas Eve. The neat thing about that, besides giving us something to open early, is that we would wear them to bed and then would have Christmas attire on for opening the presents on Christmas morning (and she wasn't even a scrapbooker--ha!). We loved this tradition and it was carried on with us until we were out of college. When Daniel was born, I continued the tradition with him, and I'm sure that Jeanette will do it with Erica in years to come.

Christmas Eve Gift!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent: Day Twenty-three

Today's ornament is a candle, symbolizing The Light of the World. When the time had come for the prophecies to finally be revealed, an angel of the Lord came to Mary and told her that she would conceive, and bear a son, and would call his name, "Immanuel," which means, "God with us." She eagerly awaited the Light of the world, as did Simeon, who when seeing the baby Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem said,

"For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Isreal" (Luke 2:30-32)

Jesus came to be our Light and as His followers, we are to be a light shining for others to see Christ. That's not always easy and I definitely don't shine very brightly sometimes. But, thankfully, with His help and by His grace, we can shine and He does illuminate the darkness!

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12).

Advent: Day Twenty-two

The ornament for Day Twenty-two is a star, which is one of my favorite Christmas symbols. The story of the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem is found in Matthew 2:1-12. The devotional book tells that the five-pointed star is called the Ephiphany Star, symbolizing the body of Jesus Christ. The five points represent His hands and feet that were nailed to the Cross and His head with the crown of thorns (p. 85).

May we all, like the Wise Men who searched for the baby Jesus, be willing to seek Jesus and follow Him as Lord of our lives.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent: Day Twenty-one

OK, I'm so tired after doing way too much today, but I'm only five days away from completing this little project, so I can do it! :-)
Actually, I got fresh motivation tonight after Daniel and I read the devotion together. Today's ornament is a brick wall, symbolizing wall of Jerusalem that was rebuilt when the people of Isreal returned to their land from exile. The last paragraph from the book says,

"After the prophecy found in Malachi 3:1, there was silence from
the prophets for 400 years. The people waited for the Messenger of the New
Covenant to come. This is also quoted in Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:76,
7:27. This prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist as the herald of Christ's
first coming." (p. 80)

I had to ask Daniel to reread that last sentence because my brain was working in slow-mo, but once he did, I was once-again amazed at God's timing. Just today at our church, the pastor preached about John the Baptist and how he was born with the purpose of preparing the way for Jesus. Scott encouraged us to look at John's life as an example of one who had "the expulsive power of a new affection for Christ." John the Baptist knew that he had to decrease and that Christ would increase. God had let John the Baptist see that Jesus was the Messiah. John the Baptist found joy in telling others that a greater one than he was coming: Jesus Christ.

I'm so thankful to God for giving us not one, but two lessons about John the Baptist today, and for the reminder that when we humble ourselves before Him, He will give us mercy, which generates love, which generates self-forgetfulness.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent: Day Twenty

The ornament of a fiery furnace represents The Exile in Babylon. In God's sovereignty, He took a remant of the tribe of Judah into captivity to preserve the lineage of His people. Through this remnant, Christ, our Supreme Judge, would come. (p.77)

The book of Daniel tells some of the stories from the years of exile in Babylon. Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were ordered to do things that went against their upbringing. They all showed great courage and faith when they stayed true to the Lord God instead of eating a constant diet of rich food and drink, bowing to idols, and praying when it was ruled illegal. Those are the kind of young men that I want my son, Daniel, and his friends, to see as role models. There are so many things in our culture that are similar to the culture in ancient Babylon. I pray that our guys will remain true to the One True God.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent: Day Nineteen

Today's devotional reading is about the Prophecy of Bethlehem. The prophet, Micah foretold that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, which was the City of David. Micah 5:2-4 was the passage that the chief priests and scribes quoted to King Herod when he demanded to know where the Christ Child would be born (Matt. 2:4-6). How amazing that this small town of Bethlehem was the birthplace of the King of Kings!

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by;

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent: Day Eighteen

We're one week away from Christmas Day! Can you believe it? Does that thought stress you out? I hope not, but if it does, just take some deep breaths, maybe get a cup of tea, and sit down to focus for a few minutes on what it's really all about. I have to listen to my own advice, too, so don't think I'm preaching to you. I've had a whole lot of fun doing these posts this month, but tonight when I thought about all of the other stuff I needed to do, I thought about skipping this. Thankfully, I changed my mind because this is one of my favorite ornaments.

The heart with writing on it symbolizes the Prophecy of the New Covenant. The key passage comes from Jeremiah 31:31-34:

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isreal and with the house of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Isreal after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."

Another verse that speaks to this is from Ezekiel 36:26-27

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

What an incredible gift of grace that God has given us: a new heart and His Word written on our hearts! Thank you, God, for not giving up on your people and for this New Covenant fulfilled in Christ.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent: Day Seventeen

The ornament for Day Seventeen is a cross to depict the Prophecy of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). For a long time, I liked keeping Christmas and Easter separate in my mind. It was hard for me (and still is sometimes) to mix the thoughts of Jesus in the manger and on the cross. But, as my faith has grown and my understanding of how the whole story is a purposeful progression, God has given me new perspective. Without the cross, there would be no Christmas. Without Calvary, there would be no cause to celebrate the manger at Bethlehem (p. 67). Thank you, God, for sending Your Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent: Day Sixteen

Daniel and I have again enjoyed doing the Advent devotions this year, and I have been encouraging him to lead us in our time together. Tonight, I asked him to be a "guest blogger," and here's what he wrote:

Our devotion tonight was about shepherds and lost sheep. In Psalm 23, the Psalm of David, it also talks about and explains about how we are God’s sheep and he is our shepherd. He watches over us like when the angels came down to the shepherds when Jesus was born. This was a good devotion for tonight because it can be hard to not feel lost with exams going on before the holidays, but that will all change soon since it’s almost His birthday after all.

Thanks, Daniel!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent: Day Fifteen

The ornament for today is a dove and a crown to symbolize the Prophecy of the Prince of Peace. One of my favorite names for Jesus is "Prince of Peace" and I am increasingly thankful that I can rest in Him during all the different seasons of my life. Right now, I have friends who are going through marital problems, cancer treatments, financial troubles, illnesses, etc. My prayer for each of them is for them to experience God's peace in the midst of their struggles. Thank you, Jesus, that you are not only our King of Glory, but our Prince of Peace as well (a line from the song, "Hold Me, Jesus").

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent: Day Fourteen

Today's ornament represents the Prophecy of the Lion and Lamb Resting Together, found in Isaiah 11:6-10. The devotional passage for adults in the book also highlighted passages from Matthew 25:31-46, Revelation 21:1-7, and Phillippians 2:9-11. As we read the scriptures tonight, the verses from Philippians especially reminded me of the song, "Oh Holy Night," which we sang in our Christmas Worship services at Grace this weekend.

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Phil. 2:9-11

Fall on your knees . . . behold your King . . . before Him lowly bend . . . Christ is the Lord, oh praise His name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent: Day Thirteen

Today's ornament symbolizes the prophecy of a shoot from the stump of Jesse (and is where the title of the devotion book comes from). Isaiah 11:1-5 says,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The Isrealites were sinful and God had to cut them off for a time. But He sent the prophet Isaiah to bring them a message of hope: from their brokenness would shoot forth a New Branch. Christ would be firmly established in righteousness and justice. Through the family tree of Jesse and David, Jesus, the "Anointed One" (Messiah) would come. (p. 55)

As I am writing this, I'm listening to Avalon sing "We Are the Reason," originally made popular by David Meece years ago. What better backdrop to look at Christmas, than to remember that we are the reason God sent His Son, and that He came to give us righteousness and peace and salvation. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful gift!

Advent: Day Twelve

The ornament for today is a Bible (or some sets of ornaments might have a scroll). The scripture passage is from 2 Kings 22-23, when King Josiah and his men found the sacred copy of the book of the Law while rebuilding the temple. King Josiah had the book of the Law read to the people and a spiritual renewal took place. The people turned from their idols and began serving God. The devotion book points out that this was the last united religious act before God sent Judah into captivity (p. 52).

I personally can't imagine not having a Bible and don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I didn't have one in my home. The first Bible I remember owning was a Children's Living Bible, given to me by my parents, and I took it to Sunday School and church with me. I also received a Bible when I was baptized, and those two copies of the Word stayed in my possesion for a long time. I think we still have the Children's Living Bible at my house now (when I took a minute to look over on the shelf to find it, I saw another one of my first Bibles, one with a white cover that predated the other two). So, to think about the story of the uncovering of the old scroll and the reading of it to the people after so long without is mind-boggling. Something even more hard to imagine is that there are countless people in the world today who have never seen or owned a copy of God's Word.

Thank you, Lord, for your Word, and for making it accessible to so many people. I pray that all who would be introduced to it would come to understand how vital Your Word is to their lives.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent: Day Eleven

I got a little behind this week, as I predicted, so I'll play catch up. The ornament for Day Eleven is a slingshot to symbolize the story of David's life. The shepherd boy who became king, and who God used to establish the royal family to which Jesus was born. May we all be men (and women) after God's own heart!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent: Day Ten

Well, our wheat ornament had a casualty this year, so we just have the top of the wheat, but it still works for now. The sheaf of wheat symbolizes the story of Ruth and Boaz, who became ancestors in the lineage of Jesus. This story is such a beautiful picture of faithfulness, obedience, provision and redemption, and I love to hear it and think about the acts of love and devotion shown by Ruth toward her mother-in-law, Naomi, and by Boaz toward Ruth. The devotional writer commented that Ruth's decision to leave her home country and surrender her life to a new faith and home with Naomi was "a deliberate choice of a heart that belonged first of all to Naomi and then to God. Ruth's love for Naomi melted into her love for Naomi's God." Boaz also made a deliberate choice to follow through with his responsibilities as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth. Boaz is symbolic of Jesus. He redeemed Ruth by marriage; Christ redeems us by His blood. (p. 46)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent: Day Nine

I love this ornament representing a bunch of grapes. It symbolizes the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land of Blessings. One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 103: 1-5:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,and all that is within me,bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(English Standard Version)

Dear Lord, let us never take for granted the blessings you have given us. You have given us a home, food, clothes. You have given us a greater blessing, however. Just as You led the children into a land of blessings, lead us into the new life You give in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for sending Him. Amen. (p. 42)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent: Day Eight

OK, I'm tired tonight and this is going to be a challenging week for me to post every day. I have been encouraged and motivated by those who have told me that they appreciate my effort, though, so I will keep trying. Just know I might need some grace this week.

Today's ornament is a tablet with ten numbers, representing Moses and the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-20; 32:15-18). I liked the prayer from the Advent Jesse Tree book today:

Lord, when the children of Isreal were slaves in a strange land, You sent them a leader, letting them know You are a God who cares about them. You gave them the Law to remind them of their sinfulness. We know our need for You. We fail every day. We confess these sins to You, and ask that by Your mercy You forgive us. Thank you for sending our Emancipator, Jesus, to free us from the bondage of sin. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to empower us to live a life for You. Amen (p. 40)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent: Day Seven

Today's ornament is Joseph's Coat of Many Colors. I have come to love the story of Joseph because it is such a great reminder of God's sovereignty and faithful provision. The whole story spans much of the last 13 chapters of Genesis (37-50) and takes Joseph from being a bragging, spoiled teenager, to a powerful, respected leader who ends up showing grace to his brothers and being who God used to save the nation of Isreal.

It's mind-boggling to think that the circumstances that Joseph had to endure (being sold into slavery, being wrongly accused and thrown into jail) were God's sovereign plan to get the Isrealites to Egypt so that they could be delivered generations later. But, in God's great plan, He allowed all these things to happen, and many other circumstances in our own lives, to bring glory to Himself and bring us to a deeper and stronger faith.

What I am completely amazed about (but not surprised) today is how this day's devotion and the sermon, "From Fear to Faith", about the Isrealites crossing the Red Sea (from Exodus 14), all came together to bring home this reminder about God's sovereignty and faithfulness.

God is so good and I just want to keep on walking on this journey with Him!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Advent: Day Six

Today's ornament is a ladder, representing the story of Jacob's dream of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. The story is found in Genesis 27:41-28:22 and is about when Jacob left his home to go live with his uncle, Laban, because his brother, Esau, was out to kill him. Jacob was all alone, running from danger, and I would imagine, wasn't feeling to good about himself. In his dream, God was a the top of the ladder and Jacob was at the bottom. "The ladder was a symbol that Jacob was not far from the arms of God." (p.32)

Sometimes, I feel like Jacob. I feel alone (even in a crowd), overwhelmed, and basically, weak. I don't like that feeling and try everything I can think of to get out from under it. Today was that kind of day. I had lots of things I was trying to do and was coming up short in the strength department. But, thankfully, God reminded me that His grace is sufficient for me, and that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12: 9). I am so thankful that in God's great love and tenderness towards Jacob, me and everyone, He gave us Jesus to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, strong and weak, Holy One and sinners.

Glorious Impossible

My friend, Wendy Wills, a songwriter who goes to my church, wrote this song, "The Glorious Impossible." It has gotten much attention across the country and I love this animation that was done using it (done at Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas, TX, area). Check it out and I hope it will give you a little bit of personal worship of the Glorious Impossible!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent: Day Five

The symbol for Day Five is a lamb and the story is told from Genesis 22 about Abraham taking Isaac to sacrifice him as an act of faith and obedience. God provided a ram as a subsitute so that Isaac did not have to die. This was a foretelling of what God would provide as a subsitute for us: His Son, Jesus.

I love the name for God that comes from this passage: Jehovah-Jirah, which means, "The Lord will provide." This has come to have such personal meaning for me as I have seen God's provision in my life. I am so thankful to God for providing the Lamb that took away my sins and for providing the Holy Spirit to dwell with me and guide me as I live my life.

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29b

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent: Day Four

This ornament symbolizes God's call to Abram, who later was renamed, "Abraham", which means, "Father of many nations." God called Abram to be a part of a larger plan, a group of people through whom others will be blessed.

The other day, my friend shared a devotion that she'd read and the thing that stuck out to me from what she shared was that when we grow in holiness and serve God in obedience and faith, we are the last ones who know we are being a blessing to others. In other words, if we are seeking the glory, we are not giving glory to the One who really deserves it.

I like this prayer from the Advent Jesse Tree book. May it be the prayer of my heart as I continue to be grown and sanctified by the One who calls me.

Prayer: You come to us in this Advent time, Yahweh, as You came to Abraham many years ago. You come to us with that same call--to be a people through whom others will be blessed. We pray that we will have that same faith to obey You in all things. Open our lives to live out Your calling. Come, Emmanuel, come. Amen. (p.26)

Advent: Day Three

In Genesis chapters 5 through 9, the story is told of how evil the people on earth became and how God spoke to a man named Noah, and told him to build an ark, which would save Noah and his family and a sampling of every animal, when God flooded the earth. The author of the Advent Jesse Tree pointed out that "the ark was Noah's salvation just as Jesus is our ark. In Him alone can we be saved." After the rain stopped and the land dried up, God gave Noah and his family a rainbow to symbolize His covenant with them and his promise to never bring such a flood on the earth again. The devotion author said, "Promises are made by God and are eternal. They are always full of grace." The rainbow was a sign of redemption and still reminds us of God's promises today.

In September of 1989, when I was just out of college and had moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, on a short-term missions assignment (I know, "suffering for Jesus" in Hawaii), I had taken a huge step of faith and had left all of my comforts: family, friends, boyfriend, familiar surroundings. I remember flying into Honolulu and getting ready to meet the people I was going to work with there. I was nervous and kind of apprehensive about what I'd signed up to do. After I had met up with my coworkers at the airport and we were driving to where I would live, I looked up in the sky and saw a double rainbow! To me, it was God's assurance that He was with me and that things were going to be OK there. I won't lie and tell you that my entire three months there was wonderful. It actually was a hard time of soul-searching, disappointment and homesickness. But, God was with me there, just as He promised.

I'm so thankful that God keeps His promises and that He had a plan to save me and all of us from our sinfulness. I'm thankful for His reminders to us of His faithfulness and that we can remember these things as we prepare for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent: Day Two

Not long after God created the earth, the first sin happened. We read in chapter 3 of Genesis about how Eve and Adam fell into sin. What struck me tonight as Daniel and I were reading the devotion, was that in Genesis 3:15, there is the promise of redemption for the sins of all of us. Even in the story of the first sin, we can see the promise of a Savior to come, foretelling the sufferings of Christ and the final victory over His enemy Satan! (p. 19) That is definitely reason to celebrate the birth of Christ!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent: Day One

Happy December! In our house, the first day of December signals the first day of our Advent devotions, using the devotional book, The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Meador Lambert. We were introduced to it probably in 2000 or 2001 by some women at church, who organized an ornament swap to create a set of 25 ornaments to go along with the book. If you go to Grace, you probably have a set of these or have at least heard about it. I think I saw signs of the ornament swap happening this year, which is great, since there are so many new families coming to our church.

This year, I had an idea that I might blog about each day and sometimes share some thoughts of my own about these ornaments and the scriptures from that day. Now, given my recent bout with procrastination, and my busy schedule, that idea might prove to be a dream, rather than reality, but we'll see how it goes. Also, I'd love to hear how others have used this book and ornaments and any stories you have from those experiences.

Day One: The Light of Creation. The year I participated in the ornament swap to get our set (I've done it a couple of other times to get sets to give as gifts), this was how the ornament was done. The symbol of the world coincides with the key verse for the day: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen.1:1)" I think it's very appropriate to start at the very beginning when thinking about the Christmas story. After all, Jesus was there with God when the world was created (John 1:1-4). And how awesome to think that because Jesus is our Light, there is light in the world and we can know Him and love Him and praise Him! (p. 14).

Thank you, God, for creating the world and everything in it. Thank you for sending Jesus to be the Light of the World and to bring us from darkness into the light! Amen.