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The 12 Days of Christmas are not the 12 days before Christmas, as many people think. For most of the Western Church, the 12 days are from December 25 to January 6 (Epiphany, or the day observed as the day the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the infant Jesus). However, some cultures observe December 26 as the first day of Christmas, and January 6 is held as a special day (in Hispanic culture, it’s known as the Day of the Kings, and gifts are often exchanged on this day).

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is also the title of a popular Christmas carol which has a history steeped in legend and myth. There are also some who believe that the song contains hidden references to the Christian faith . . . symbolism in the song can be interpreted as follows:

A partridge in a pear tree (Jesus Christ, symbolically the mother partridge who clucks over and protects her chick, Luke 13:34)

Two turtledoves (The Old and New Testaments)

Three French hens (Faith, Hope, and Love, 1 Corinthians 13:13)

Four calling birds (The Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

Five gold(en) rings (The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch)

Six geese a’laying (The six days of creation)

Seven swans a’swimming (The seven gifts of the Spirit, Romans 12:6-8)

Eight Maids a’milking (The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10)

Nine ladies dancing (Nine fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22,23)

Ten lords a’leaping (The 10 commandments, Exodus 20:1-17)

Eleven pipers piping (The 11 faithful apostles; Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, is not included)

Twelve drummers drumming (The 12 points in the Apostles’ Creed)

Some believe that the true love mentioned in the song represents God the Father.

While there is nothing substantive to support the history attributed to the religious symbolism of this Christmas carol, neither has it been disproved.

From Christmas A to Z, ©2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. (Thomas Nelson) Used by permission.

 

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The sea, the sand, the rocks, the birds, the fish, the waves—God made every detail. Every molecule, every grain, every crevice, feather, and gill—He made the entire scene you’re taking in [when you are at the beach]. And then, He went even further: He gave us His Son, who provided a way for us to live forever. . . .

Yes, God may have provided for the way for us to have eternal life, but what about the groceries we need for this week? The unexpected bill? . . . day-to-day details that nag and aggravate and weigh us down? How would He have time to deal with that and—better yet—why would He care?

He who loves us with a steadfast love is as into the details of our lives as He was when He created the details of bringing together the water and the sandy shores.

So have you given your details to God to figure out? . . . When we hand them over to Him, something wonderful happens. . . . He’s got this plan. . . . And we’ll see that it . . . is good.

Thus says the Lord,

Who created the heavens,

Who is God,

Who formed the earth and made it,

Who has established it,

Who did not create it in vain,

Who formed it to be inhabited:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
Isaiah 45:18

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him.
Ezra 8:22

From Joy for the Journey: Morning and Evening © 2014 by Thomas Nelson (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) Used by permission. 

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We have all heard the Christmas story in Luke where the angels come to Mary to tell her she is going to have a son. Not just any son, but THE Son of God. If you remember, Mary questions the angels on how this could happen, since she’s a virgin; and the angels basically tell her, Don’t worry about it. The Holy Spirit will take care of it. With God, nothing is impossible.

Mary’s response to this outrageous, unbelievable, outlandish news is, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) 

Wow, what faith!

Mary chooses, just like that, to believe and accept God’s plan for her life, as impossible as it seems.

To complicate matters, Mary is engaged to Joseph, and she is faced with the daunting task of telling her fiancée that she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Yeah, right!

Think about this for a minute, here is this young girl, probably only 12 or 13 years old, who is facing grave consequences with her bold yes. Those consequences include being disowned by her family, being dropped and deserted by her fiancée, and deemed an outcast in society. Yet this young girl has the courage and the faith to SIMPLY SAY YES.

Mary chose faith and obedience. She chose to accept God’s destiny for her life.

It makes me wonder, would I be able to say yes to God so easily?

And think about all Mary would have to endure because of this yes. She would watch her son be rejected by the religious leaders. She would stand on the sidelines, weeping, as he was beaten and crucified. She would watch him, with her own heart breaking, as he took his final breath in utter agony.

But, and this is a big but, she also saw firsthand the amazing, glorious news of His resurrection. The gift of salvation and all that his life truly meant came to life before her very eyes. What incredible joy, awe and wonder she must have felt at that moment. Can you imagine?

But that night all those years ago when the story began, that night when the angels came, she had no idea how the story would end. She had no idea if she would be accepted or rejected by her family and her community. She had no idea if anyone in the world would believe her improbable story about her immaculate conception. She had no idea what it would truly mean to be the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Yet she still said yes.

As you rush through the craziness of this season, I invite you to sit a minute and ponder that yes. Let the gravity of that yes sink deep into your soul as you ask yourself some hard questions:

How many times have I said no to God because I wanted to know how the journey would end before I would take that first step?

How would I answer God right here and right now if He called me to do something greater than I thought humanly possible?

What parts of my story do I need to surrender to God’s plan as Mary did?

How can I say yes to God today?

I pray your heart and soul are enlightened as you take a minute to ponder and celebrate the fact that Mary said yes!

Hugs and love,

Jill Miller

http://jillmillermusic.com Jill has been called the “Energizer Bunny” more times than she can remember. It’s probably because she has a zest for life that’s contagious and loves sharing how God has worked in her life. Through her music ministry, she shares her personal struggles honestly and never pretends to have all the answers or have it all together. She’s simply a friend telling her story, hoping it will touch your heart, encourage you in your struggles, and inspire you to keep moving forward and reaching for your full potential. Some of the struggles Jill has been through include infertility, adoption, divorce, the struggles of step-parenting, and a father with dementia, but she’s intentional about sharing how she has seized the opportunities to grow and deepen her faith through every trial and every heartache. Jill’s music is real, raw and personal. It comes from her heart and stylistically has been compared to Amy Grant, Allison Krauss and Francesca Battistelli. Jill also loves writing theme songs for events that she performs at, which adds tremendous value to organizations she partners with. At home, Jill feels surrounded by testosterone! She and her husband John have four adult sons and two rescue dogs, Willie and Waylon.
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As I prepare for Christmas, one thing that I love doing is going back to Sara’s blog and remember what she wrote…remember her perspective. God’s perspective. I do believe that Sara opened her mind and heart to God so He could teach us through her.

I love this post, Sara wrote on “The Real Story.” I pray it will be a blessing to you!

When I think about being little and hearing the story of Jesus’ birth, I remember being amazed at such an important baby being born in a manger. I even remember being amazed that Mary said yes to the angel without a second thought. But mostly I remember having a romanticized version of the Nativity in my mind.

I pictured Mary serene and sure of herself. I imagined her smiling and joyful because such an amazing thing was asked of her. My mind saw her as she was in all the pictures and Nativity scenes… lovely, peaceful, wearing spotless garments, draped in blue and hair perfect. The barn looked clean and lovely, and the manger seemed as though it was always meant for a baby.

If only life were truly that picture perfect.

The real story.

The one where their lives were full of the worry of work and taxes and what neighbors think of you. The story where Mary says yes to the angel, but walks away with questions and concerns. The one where Joseph needs coaxing to believe in Mary, the one where her parents want her to stay home from the census to protect her, the one where their neighbors shun them for what is perceived as their sinful ways. The story where Mary and Joseph admit their fears to each other but continue on their journey because they answered the call to do what was right.

They didn’t just peacefully travel to Bethlehem on a donkey, as we see in the story books. They struggled. They ran out of food. They nearly lost their footing crossing a river and Mary prayed aloud that God would help them find a way to get through their journey.

She didn’t ask for a chariot. She didn’t ask for their way to be made simple. She didn’t ask for God to reveal His plan to all so she wouldn’t have to suffer the humiliation. She didn’t ask for it to be easy. Mary simply asked for help and strength. And she was given both.

Sometimes it seems natural for us to think that life is supposed to be easy. Or, if we’re on the right path, that it should be made smooth for us. But if we can learn anything from Mary and Joseph, it’s that we should forge ahead doing right for right’s sake. Whether the journey seems impossible, or it seems we deserve better … we need only remember that God’s own Son didn’t have an easy way into this life. Or out of it. But He was given the same help and strength that was given to His parents. The same help and strength that is offered to us every day if we choose to look, not beyond our circumstances, but in the midst of them.

Mary and Joseph didn’t wait until they were in a cozy home to be grateful that God had pulled them through. In the midst of the rough circumstances they found at the stable, they recognized the gift that had been entrusted to them.

This Christmas, as we think about what didn’t go quite right or how we may have wanted things to be easier, stop and remember that just as Mary and Joseph found all those years ago, we too are always given blessings in the hay.

It’s so easy to get distracted by the difficulties instead of the joy, but today – and every day – should be about remembering why we are here. Who gave us life. The struggle He had to go through just to be born. The faithfulness of Mary and Joseph, not to be rescued and their burdens eased, but instead to fulfill what God asked of them.

We are here because He was born.

How blessed we are.

Laura Frankl Pederson

Choose Joy Foundation

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In this video with Thelma Wells “Mama T” shares how a “family stitched together with love seldom unravels.” In our family, sometimes we do get angry with each other, but there shouldn’t be a time when conflicts allow Satan to come in to tear your family apart. Know that God created families and His desire is for you to live in peace and harmony with your family and with others. His love for us must be shed abroad in our hearts so that hurts, shame, disappointment and sin doesn’t cloud our hearts and minds against each other. In this day and age when everyone’s voice is being heard through social media, remember to take a moment and think before you speak or react. This one simple step will keep your family stitched together. Love is patient…Love is kind…Love IS… Love conquers all.

Corinthians 13:4-8:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Sunday Evening Tea: A Family Stitched Together Seldom Unravels - YouTube

Known as “Mama T,” Thelma Wells has been featured in D Magazine, Southern Living, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Significant Living and many more publications and TV shows including Dr. Phil, The Joanie Show, Life Today and the 700 Club. Traveling to 20+ conferences a year as a speaker, she’s sought after by corporations, women’s groups and governmental entities.  She’s no stranger to the stage, having presented to over a million people in her 35 year career and spoken on the stage with the best including Zig Ziglar, Max Lucado, the late Rosa Parks, Kay Arthur, June Hunt, Serita Jakes and of course, her Women of Faith porch pals:  Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Nicole Johnson and International Singer Sandy Patti.
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So the week has been overwhelming? You want a sanitized house. Your family deserves nutritious meals. Your job is demanding (whether you are an office slave or a household servant!). You would like to take an art course, write a poem, create a garden, maybe take a trip. . . .

“I can’t do it all!” you screamed above the hiss of the shower over and over when you were alone half a blissful moment.

Of course, you can’t. Don’t you think God knew that? That’s why He created Sundays. Now the helter-skelter existence will commence anew on Monday. But maybe you can face life a day at a time if you use Sunday wisely—breathing in God in big, big doses.

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Genesis 2:3

For so the Lord said to me,

“I will take My rest,

And I will look from My dwelling place

Like clear heat in sunshine,

Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”

Isaiah 18:4

And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Deuteronomy 5:15

From Joy for the Journey: Morning and Evening © 2014 by Thomas Nelson (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) Used by permission.

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1The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.
2Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
3A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.
4His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.
5The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.

7Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

8Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord.
9For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.
10Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
11Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
12Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
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