An early Christmas present (Hurry to Bethlehem!)

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Last November I wrote a children’s Christmas poem just for fun. It was a countdown poem, starting with ten multitudes of angels, dwindling down to the one baby in the manger. I shared it with my writing friend Laurel, who liked it.

Fast forward to this fall, when Laurel took a job at our church in the children’s department. One of her responsibilities was to help plan the Christmas concert. She asked whether she could use that poem I’d written. Of course I gave permission, we made some changes, and I gave her carte blanche to use it as she liked.

A few weeks ago when I was setting up for a women’s class with the help of our pastor in charge of the technical stuff, he said as an aside, “Your book turned out really well.”

“My book?! I never wrote a book.”

“But didn’t you write the poem?”

Then it dawned on me. Laurel & company must have developed my little poem into a book.

Indeed, that is what happened.

So this Christmas, the little book I never knew I’d written has been distributed to hundreds of kids (the Sunday School children were given copies to help them memorize it for the concert) and on Sunday it will part of the show. That’s a pretty fine early Christmas present, I’d say!

I photographed it to show you…

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Front and back cover of Hurry to Bethlehem

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A multitude of angels
brightening the sky.
“Do not fear,” their leader says.
“I will tell you why.

“To you shepherds I bring news
of the greatest joy.
In Bethlehem is born this night
Messiah baby boy!

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Leave your sheep behind you here
travel to the town.
You’ll find Him in a manger
dressed in a swaddling gown.”

They hurry into Bethlehem
as fast as they are able.
On many streets they search and search
seeking the right stable.

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In barns they visit one by one
are donkeys, cows, and sheep
but then they hear a baby dry.
“Not all the town’s asleep!”

They race at once toward that barn
knock on the flimsy door.
“Come in,” a voice from inside says,
“What do you come here for?”

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The door swings wide, they come inside
watched by four pairs of eyes—
a cow, a donkey, man and wife
who can’t hide their surprise.

The light is dim inside the barn
shepherds can hardly see
but then, by the low lantern light
they make out there are three.

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Father stands beside the two
guarding them from danger.
Mother rocks the crying babe
then puts Him in the manger.

Here is the One in swaddling clothes
just like the angel said
in a straw-filled cattle trough
for His newborn bed.

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Then countless times they tell the tale
by their excitement driven,
“This night our simple eyes have seen
Christ the Saviour given!
Glory, glory to our God
in the highest heaven.”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

You might want to check out my friend Laurel’s Toward Christmas blog, where she posts a poem a day throughout Advent (following the stories of people in Jesus’ lineage—sometimes called the “Jesse Tree”)

And now I wish you and yours every blessing of the season!

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe (review)

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Miracle at the Higher Grounds CafeMiracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After Chelsea Chambers discovers that her NFL husband Sawyer has been cheating on her, inheriting the family café and coffee shop in San Antonia is the perfect out. She, with 12-year-old Hancock and six-year-old Emily move into the upper floor of the Victorian house above the Higher Grounds Café, determined to put new life into the family’s 40+-year-old establishment.

But just after she opens, a letter from the IRS arrives demanding back taxes. When she contacts Sawyer about releasing funds for this, she discovers he has spent all her nest egg on his own money problems. Is her dream of running her own business doomed before it ever gets underway?

Chelsea’s dilemma alerts heaven’s minions and soon Samuel, her clumsy but loveable guardian angel is up to his neck in her daily affairs.

Fantasy intersects reality in Max Lucado’s novel Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café—a book that addresses issues of family, prayer, forgiveness and second chances. It’s an easy read and Lucado’s signature deftness with words makes it a fun read as well:

“ ‘ Who’s that?’ said the young magician who had turned his smartphone into an IMAX screen. The image stretched as far as the east is from the west: Sawyer Chambers in the arms of another woman. A redheaded beauty. A triple threat—younger, thinner, and prettier” – Kindle Location 289.

Discussion questions at the end help us hone in on the timeless truths this story delivers with subtlety and grace. Readers of all ages will enjoy this inspirational, ends-well tale.

I received Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

Spirit Bridge – review

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Spirit BridgeSpirit Bridge by James L. Rubart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spirit Bridge—the third and final book in the three-book Well Spring series by James Rubart—is a cat-and-mouse game of evil versus good. In it we follow members of the Warriors Riding Ministry—Reece, Doug, Brandon, Marcus, and Dana that readers have met in books one and two. We’re also introduced (or re-introduced) to a couple of less familiar characters, namely Miyo and Simon the Magician.

We’re just aware enough of what’s going on in the spiritual realms, ‘peopled’ by the likes of the demon Master and his minions Caustin and Zennon, and angels Tristan, Orson, and Jotham, to keep us on the edge of our seats. The caginess of the enemy and the fact that we’re not exactly sure on which side some of the characters are makes for some nervous scenes with surprising outcomes. Of course the fact our heroic warriors haven’t been able to successfully ward off calamity in the past adds to the tension as we question, Rubart wouldn’t actually let his heroes come to serious harm, would he?—uh, yes, he would. Add to all that several hand-to-hand battles and you have an often heart-pounding read.

The elements of Rubart’s fantasy setting are a combination of imagination, psychic phenomenon (like soul travel), and a sometimes literal interpretation of certain Bible passages. For example when the angels are fighting and “Each of them held the arrows up close to their mouth and spoke as if giving the arrows instruction…” Miyo recognizes the scriptural origin: “’This is Habakkuk chapter three come to life “…Your bow was made ready; oaths were sworn over your arrows”’” Kindle Location 6704.

This book was my introduction to the series. I’d recommend reading the other books first. Though I did eventually get into the swing of the story, the characters make lots of references to previous adventures to which I wasn’t privy so I felt a little out of it.

Though I enjoyed the suspense of the plot, the imaginative setting, and how Rubart envisioned the interplay of the natural world with the spiritual, my favorite parts of the story were where characters got insights into the spiritual implications of what was happening in them.

For example, when Brandon discovers he can sing again, but only some of the time, he tries to understand why. He says, “… I have a feeling when I sing his songs, I get the voice you heard. When I sing my own, I get the raspy voice you’re hearing right now” – K.L. 1672.

And when Dana is learning from Miyo about vulnerability to the enemy, Miyo tells her: “I know the only way warfare can get in is through an opening. A crack in our souls. Those cracks come from sin. Things we are holding onto. I don’t know what it is in you. Hardness of heart? Having to prove yourself? Needing to perform? …. You offered him a seam, and he was able to worm his way through and plant thoughts and images and promises and suggestions and warfare inside you” – K.L. 5316.

Spirit Bridge might be a fantasy. But in it I found a lot of truth.

I received Spirit Bridge as a gift from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.

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