Advent, News, Poetry, Publication Updates

New Release! While Bethlehem Sleeps: A Poetic Advent Devotional Now Available in Paperback.

 

While Bethlehem Sleeps: A Poetic Advent Devotional is now available in paperback and for Kindle.

 

In 2012, While Bethlehem Sleeps awakened readers to reflect on the Christmas story through poetry depicting character sketches, Advent themes, and seasonal musings. This expanded edition provides devotional insights with poetic highlights. Activities at the end of each daily reading assist in extending Advent throughout the week with individual, family, and community impact. The inclusion of the original poetry collection ensures intellectual, inspirational reading year after year.

 

Penny J. Johnson is an author and editor whose previous works include three poetry collections, one novel, and one devotional. She enjoys facilitating a women’s Bible study, home educating, knitting, and meeting up for coffee with family and friends. Penny lives in Minnesota with her husband, their three sons, their two Labrador Retrievers, and their Ragdoll-Himalayan.

 

Paul L.H. Olson is an executive adviser and board director for large and small corporations, not-for-profit, and higher education organizations. He serves as an adult Sunday School teacher and as a spiritual, leadership mentor. Paul lives in Minnesota with his wife and spends his free-time golfing, fishing, reading, and traveling.

Advent, Uncategorized

25 Days of Advent: The Third Sunday of Advent

My theme for 2017 matches the traditional theme for Advent’s third Sunday: joy. How did I do with reflecting joy this year?

With Philippians 4:4 as my key verse, I practiced rejoicing…over and over again. I did this when I didn’t feel like it. I did it when I did feel more like it, yet seemed to forget joy in my moments of happiness.

I read books about happiness. I learned through Randy Alcorn’s study titled Happiness that happiness and joy are more akin to one another than I had been taught in church. It’s not unspiritual to be happy. There are many ways to seek out happiness, according to Gretchen Rubin’s books. But, through scripture, I learned that true joy is found in acknowledging happiness while enjoying all God has given me.

I am reminded, too, of a trick I learned years ago. In order to correctly sing the word rejoice, it is pronounced as re-choice. Some of my most joyous moments happened when applying an attitudinal choice. I could choose joy as we condsidered a move out-of-state. I could also choose joy when the move didn’t happen. I had to readjust my thinking about many things. I continue readjusting my thinking by applying Philippians 4:8. That’s my continued goal for 2018.

What is your re-choice to rejoice this Christmas season?

Advent, Uncategorized

25 Days of Advent: Declutter

One of the seemingly hopeless aspects of Christmas is decluttering. Not only is there the routine cleaning, but the additional decor sometimes gets in the way. For example, my new Deebot keeps getting stuck in the tree skirt.

As an assortment of gifts multiply under the tree, I wish I could ignore the stacks of boxes going unsorted in my basement. What treasures must be buried there? Maybe there is something I could re-gift. If only I was as good at labeling those boxes.

Time during the Christmas season becomes cluttered, too. There are gifts to be made and purchased. Events require attendance.

The only thing decluttering is my diminishing bank account.

Yet, everything gets done–eventually. Time must be made for the most important things. People require attending as well. There are gifts to give and receive. Something happens when we take the time to give acts of service, words of encouragement, and hugs. Maybe the best thing we can do is spend quality time listening over coffee and cookies.

After all, those boxes in the basement aren’t going anywhere. They can wait until January.

Advent, Uncategorized

25 Days of Advent: First Snow

December 5 is a bit late for the first accumulating snow. But, then, Minnesota weather is rarely predictable. A week ago, I could go outside without a jacket. I think that won’t be the case until at least April. Maybe May.

Yet, there is comfort in the predictable unpredictability of weather. Bleak days are often followed by brilliant ones. Sometimes both happen in the same twenty-four hours–the clouds barely outlined with a hidden glimmer until they can no longer hold back the streaming gleam. On those days, hope becomes visible with glinting snow and gently melting ice. On those days, I ignore the weather report and simply gaze in amazement.