A Common Girl, An Uncommon Time – Part II

This one’s my finale to the blog tour. I hope it blesses your Christmas.

Thanks to Caesar Augustus’s demand for a census, which Mary didn’t mind, since it rescued her from Nazareth, Mary and Joseph trod the same crowded road Mary had six months ago when she visited Elizabeth.

The donkey plodded along, and she recalled arranging her clothing to mask her expanding abdomen when she’d walked back into Nazareth after her visit.

Mary planned to circle around Joseph’s house, but as she was about to, there he stood. Smiling.

“You know that angel?”

“Um hm”

“I met him in a dream. He told me this incredible story’s true. The hundreds of years we’ve waited for our Messiah have ended. Right here, in Nazareth. And just so you know, it doesn’t surprise me one single jot that Yahweh picked you. I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you before. Forgive me?”

“Oh Joseph.” She’d run into his arms.

She’d begged to go with Joseph, though a wife could stay at home if she wanted. Only, she couldn’t stand the staring eyes and wagging tongues of Nazareth, or her parents’ shame, one more moment. Now the sun set as Joseph led their donkey into Bethlehem.

 Ouch! What was that? Wait, was it the beginning of birth pains? They grew stronger as the couple came to each door where another innkeeper rebuffed Joseph.

With gratitude to http://www.postcardsandpassports.com

Finally, an innkeeper who also claimed no rooms, seeing her endure a strong contraction, pointed to a stable behind his inn. “You can take her there.”

The Son of the Most High would be born in a stable? Not a palace? Not even a house? Yahweh, what are You doing?

You are rich in something more than gold and silver, Mary. I draw attention to what matters by where you birth My Son.

Joseph piled up clean straw for her, and when she’d accomplished Jesus’s birth, she gazed down into His eyes–His deep eyes held eternity, and love. God had done what He said He would do. Joseph took Him from her and laid Him in a manger where he’d arranged more clean straw. How could she mother God’s Son? How can I, Lord?

I will guide you. But you will make mistakes because you are human, and I am prepared for that.

Rough shepherds appeared and lingered at the entrance. “May we come in? An angel told us while we were keeping the temple sheep that our Savior is here in a manger.” They looked over at Jesus sleeping in His swaddling cloths.

Mary wondered again. No kings, prophets, priests, or warriors–just shepherds? Common people, like her and Joseph. Father, are You telling us that faith is more important than the power, education, or wealth our world approves?


“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

May the amazing birth of our Savior lead us all to ponder.

I hope “A Common Girl, An Uncommon Time” warmed your Christmas. If you’re reading this on Facebook, I’d love to send you free short stories once a month if you’ll sign up with your email at janecarlilebaker.com.

The Nativity


Dianne Marie Andre

Mary, mother of Jesus. My heart can barely grasp what an extraordinary woman she must have been to be chosen the mother of the world’s Savior. I imagine her perfect, without sin. Though this is unlikely, God blessed her above all women. Yet His path for Mary wasn’t easy. To avoid disgrace as an unwed mother, God instructed her fiancée to marry her and to travel together from Nazareth to safety in Bethlehem.

The young couple trekked on unpaved trails for four days along flatlands and over hills, possibly in freezing temperatures. When they reached Bethlehem, no doubt weary, they had to settle for a cave—used to house animals—in which to rest where Mary gave birth.

The least desired place for a birthing mother became the most honored and beloved story of all time. The young couple listened to God, trusted, obeyed, and persevered. Hard as it was—which many of us can’t comprehend just how difficult—God provided for them along the way and when they reached their destination.

I wonder if the world silenced to hear the first cry of the King. If an unidentified light glowed in the dim cave the moment Jesus entered the world. If the waters rested and the winds ceased. Luke 2:13-14 tells us after shepherds in Bethlehem were told of Jesus’ birth, the angels sang. We will never know the full magnificence of all that took place during the nativity.

What an honor it is to have included the nativity in my novel Dress Shop Miracles. It’s one of my favorite scenes as my characters traveled from a difficult path to hope, love, and miracles. I hope you love the story of Molly and Ted as much as I did writing it, and guess what?

I’m giving away one e-book copy of Dress Shop Miracles via Amazon Kindle.

To qualify for the drawing simply: 1) subscribe to my website at diannmarieandre.com; 2) then comment below this article (at my website) that you subscribed via Christmas Blog Tour. The winner will be announced December 24, 2022.

You can read the blurb here:

I hope you’ll take a moment to enjoy a video with my 52-year-old nativity set honoring the birth of Christ. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao9h2lbQTgw

Merry Christmas,

Dianne Marie Andre

Far From Home Christmas

by EV Sparrow

In 1975, I accepted Jesus Christ’s work on the cross for my salvation, and a few months later, my parents sold my childhood home. We moved into a new community for people over 55. Because of my parents’ ages, they allowed me in. The promise of the clubhouse pool helped sell me on the idea and get excited.

The day we unpacked the moving truck, a friendly neighbor approached from across the street, and introduced us to another neighbor, Bea. She had a son my age. As we stood in our driveway, Bea told us there were four teens now, and she was happy to meet me. She invited me to her church, the youth group, and was the first Christian woman I met. Bea discipled me before I’d heard what it was. She also has the gifts of mercy and evangelism. It’s always Christmas in her heart.

Bea is 100 years old now, and my “second Mom.” She and her family adopted me by welcoming me as a sister. Her two youngest sons were my close friends. One had the travel bug and urged me to come over to Israel and work on the kibbutz for the summer where he lived, then work for the winter in Germany. I did.

It was 1981, and I fulfilled my dream of overseas travel after listening to his stories of working seasonal jobs and traveling for several years. The thought of going to Bible story locations burned within my soul. Experience where Jesus lived and see where He died? Yes. Not only enjoy gorgeous posters of castles on my walls, but to go inside them? I must.

I purchased a one-way ticket to Israel, worked on the kibbutz for the summer, traveled, then flew to Germany to work for the winter. Visiting 14 countries gave me the experiences I wrote about in my short stories, and how God gave me the unexpected encounters with Him as I traveled.

I’d never been so far away from home until that 1981 Christmas and never dreamed of celebrating it in the magnificent setting of the German Alps. It remains my most fantastic memory of Christmas, and I wrote a short story about it for Grace Publishing’s Celebrating Christmas anthology. My hope is it will resonate with your heart.

My Bavarian Christmas story is a gift to you when you sign up for my newsletter. Merry Christmas to all!

Second in the Series, and you may find some fun ideas!

Christmas Season Must-Watch List

by Karin Beery

I love the holiday season. It’s not just Christmas—it’s the love, anticipation, grace, and thankfulness that fills our house every November, December, and January. I start decorating the first weekend of November, and I have to pace myself when it comes to wrapping presents, donating gifts, and baking (and baking and baking) so I don’t do it all in one week.

While I’m doing all of those things, I always have a Christmas movie playing in the background.

Though I enjoy Hallmark holiday movies, I can’t watch them while I work—it’s too easy to get sucked into the plot and stop working! Instead, I have my Must-Watch List of traditional and nontraditional movies. They’re perfect for the season without being too distracting (because I’ve seen each one a dozen times!).

Christmas movies became a staple in my life when I was single because I often felt lonely in my apartment by myself. Even though I’m married now, we’re a childless couple. We spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family, but the other holiday is spent at home with each other. I love my husband, but our small family lacks the craziness I grew up with having two sisters with less than four years between all of us. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but now I crave the familiar coziness of it all.

Though I’d rather be with family, these holiday movies set the mood, and because I’ve seen them so many times, it makes it feel like the house is full of friends. I can’t wait to watch them again this year!

Here’s my list of Must-Watch holiday flicks.


White Christmas
The Santa Clause
(1, 2, and 3)
The Holiday
Holiday Inn
The Man Who Invented Christmas


Little Women (1994)
Die Hard (1 & 2)
While You Were Sleeping

I’ll also usually watch Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but those are really for my husband, not so much for me.

What about you—are you a fan of Christmas movies? Which is your favorite?

(Movies aren’t the only tradition at our house—click here for the easy-to-make recipes for my husband’s two favorite holiday treats!)

Author of hopeful fiction with a healthy dose of romance, Karin Beery also owns Write Now Editing, helping authors turn good manuscripts into great books.  She lives in northern Michigan with her husband and pets. They drink too much (decaf) coffee, put up their Christmas tree the first weekend in November, and do their best to live every day for the Lord.

Some places where you can connect:






Ten Ways to Display Kindness During the Holidays

By Jennifer Hallmark

The holidays have arrived, dressed in glitter, bearing the aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon, and pine. Traffic has jammed around malls and supercenters. And who can forget the increase of events? Parties, special church services, and family gatherings, to name a few.

A time of joy, laughter, and togetherness.

But not for all.

During this time of pandemic illnesses, high inflation, and families uprooted from their homes due to job changes and fresh starts, people are lonely. Unsettled. Depressed.

Crying out for relief.

What can we do? Is there a way, as individuals, churches, or civic groups, that we can help?

Yes! We can make a difference in our community, state, nation, and world. From small acts of kindness to large charitable undertakings, everyone can do something. We just have to start. Over the years, I’ve had the blessing of participating in “good deeds” to make the holidays brighter for someone in need. Here are some ideas that you, as an individual, or your group can look into:


  • Send Christmas cards. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a cheerful card in the mail?
  • Make a phone call. Brighten someone’s day with the sound of your voice.
  • Bake or create a gift. People enjoy homemade presents.
  • Deliver packages of socks to a nursing home or homeless shelter. An often-requested item.
  • Smile while you shop. You never know what people are going through and what a smile might mean.

Church or Civic Group

Whether you share a card, phone call, visit, homemade gift, or smile, you can make a lonely person feel loved and accepted during this special time of year. The blessing you receive in return will be worth it all.

What do you plan to do to make the Christmas season more meaningful? I’d love to know!

Gifts for you: How would you like to receive ten of my favorite cake and cookie recipes, read the first chapter of my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, and sign up for my newsletter, all for free? Here’s the page with all the information https://www.subscribepage.com/x2e1j4. Thanks!

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction off the beaten track and her website focuses on her books, love of the South, and the unexpected in stories. Jessie’s Hope, her debut novel published by Firefly Southern Fiction, was a 2019 Selah Award nominee. She also hosts a podcast on persevering during chaotic times, “Determined to Dance,” and is a mentor with Word Weavers International.