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WRITING PROMPT WEDNESDAY: The Mug (13 Words)

This is my favorite mug. I use it every time I write. My main character also happens to use this mug. What a coincidence!

Write a 13 word story about it. Below is the sentence from my book:

Vivian Richards held her favorite coffee mug between her palms embracing its warmth. 

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FLASH FICTION: Death of an Artist

January 2, 2023, prompt: Write a story about a sabbatical in 99 words (no more, no less). Who needs one or has had one? What kind of tension could a rest create? Where can a break take your story? Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.

DEATH OF AN ARTIST

“Sabbatical? Are you serious?” She dropped her half-smoked cigarette into her styrofoam cup—the bitter black coffee inside extinguishing its power.

“Get away from work. Go somewhere. Stay home. It doesn’t matter.” Dr. Shelley leaned forward. “Just put the paintbrushes and easels away.”

Jayne puffed angry air out her nostrils. 

“I won’t see you again until you do.”  

Jayne knew Dr. Shelley was serious. She didn’t mince words. That’s why Jayne liked her, plus, she too was an artist. 

She lived.

She understood.

The mental death of an artist was slow and excruciating. 

And Jayne’s gravestone was already being written.

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

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WRITING PROMPT WEDNESDAY: 35 Word Photo Prompt Challenge

I have decided to try something different in 2023 and spend Wednesdays inviting others to enjoy a Writing Prompt either based on a photo or a word (or even something crazy, like the name of a recipe. Who knows what my mind will come up with?)

For this week’s Writing Prompt, please write a 35 word story based on this photo.

Photo taken by Raelyn Pracht 2021

Post your story in the comment section here or follow me on Facebook at Raelyn Pracht, Author and post it there. Feel free to post a link to your blog if you would rather do that!

Here is my story:

IT WAITS

Abandoned, but certainly not forgotten. The gift was anything but. The painted porcelain face and the humble clothes mask something sinister underneath.

Something which clings to the heartbeat of whoever possesses it.

Now, it waits.

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MOTIVATION MONDAY

This first Monday of 2023 finds me working on the fifth draft of my first ever novel.

It has been an experience that dances between exuberating and frustrating.

However, I find motivation through fellow writers, bloggers, and established authors.

I came across this quote by Terry Pratchett on this, the first Motivation Monday of 2023.

It is so simple, but so powerful . . . and true.

For those of you working on your first drafts, it’s a great reminder.

It’s also a great reminder when we continue our work because we flip the switch and tell the reader the story.

In 2023, I think I will do Motivation Mondays. Most of them will do with writing, but I won’t promise that all of them will.

Please consider following me on Facebook at Raelyn Pracht, Author

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CHEERS!

This was written for a writing prompt where you had to use the word “Cheers”. I thought it was appropriate to repost since we are near New Years Eve.

“Cheers!”

She was the last one to raise her glass and the only one not to take a sip. 

He was the only one who knew why.

He watched her, quietly and uninvited, from across the room. She looked beautiful in the long, fitted, red gown. Her toffee brown hair draped around her shoulders, hiding her scarred, yet tantalizing neckline.

She smiled at the gentleman talking to her. Mustering out a fake giggle at something she perceived as witty, she lightly touched his arm.

She turned, locked eyes with the man across the room, and dropped her glass of champagne.

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FRIDAY FIRST’S: First Paragraph of Chapter 8 (where you meet Eliza)

Eliza Jaynes stood on the front steps of what was once their dream home – a four bedroom, Cape Cod in an upper class neighborhood. With her arms folded tightly across her chest, she stared blankly at her husband. She watched as Jack put the last piece of his furniture into the back of  the truck. He gave the ropes and bungee cords a hard tug, double checking their security. Jack knew full well they were secure. He was buying time, trying to delay the inevitable.

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EVERLASTING LIGHT

“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”
-O Little Town of Bethlehem

“At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:8

The words of this song practically represent an image of a beautiful winter landscape on a Christmas card, perhaps designed by Thomas Kinkaid. It’s a peaceful scene of Christmas night in a small, sleeping village filled with dark, quiet streets. The only thing lighting the landscape would be those silent stars going by. It’s a painting of serenity.

Is that really how it was, though? Did the people of Bethlehem lay their heads downs and sleep in heavenly peace that night? Up until then, Bethlehem was a violent place ruled by Davidic kings. There was hope, though, given to the people by the prophet, Micah. Micah prophesied that God was going to raise up a new Davidic king from the city of Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). Thus, Bethlehem was the place where David’s reign began and from which a new Davidic king would again come.

When they laid their heads down they had fear. They also had hope. They knew a King was coming who would save them. They didn’t know when. Can you imagine what it would be like to lay your head down at night with fear and to wake up knowing that your hope has come? That night they went to bed, not only in the darkness of the landscape but also in their personal darkness. In the morning, they awoke to a new light…an Everlasting Light. This Light would shine on them calling to them to bring their hopes and fears to meet it.

The Everlasting Light…bringing its shine to all the world over 2000 years ago and will continue to shine its light on each and every one of us today.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for the Light…the Everlasting Light that we can bring our hopes and fears to. Help me share and shine my light for others to see. Amen.

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“Away in a manger
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head”
– Away in a Manger

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Allow me to play on words here – to separate “away” into “a way.”   It’s important to remember the great significance of the birth of Jesus. The baby who lay humbly in the manger. The baby who would lead and be the way to the Father and to eternal life.  

Jesus is the greatest gift we could ever receive  – a true, tangible representation of God’s love.  His birth represents an invitation to all of us to become children of God and heirs to the kingdom.  It is one of the many promises of God to us.  We are His children. The kingdom belongs to us through Him.  We are invited to be part of it in every way. We can share in the joy of His birth and share in His glory. Jesus Christ, our brother, was given to us as a gift for our salvation.  He is a sign of God’s perfect love for us-His children.  As Josh Gilligan says in his version of this song, “the hope of man is born today.”  He is our hope. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Just as Jesus extends the invitation to us, we extend an invitation to Him.  We invite Him into our hearts. We ask Him to lead our way through this world. In John 14:2,  He tells us that His “Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”  We are invited to live with Him there. The invitation was manifested that night in the manger. Extend the invitation to those around you. It is the greatest and most important invitation you and I will ever receive and the most important one we can give.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for sending the way, the truth and the life. Thank You for the gift of Your son. May He continue to lead us down a path of righteousness. Amen. 

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THIS IS CHRIST THE KING

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”
– What Child Is This

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Although the birth of Jesus was foretold by Isaiah, many people did not picture their King, their Savior, their Leader, to come in the form of a baby. They wanted someone who would rule for them. They expected someone of strength and power. Their visual expectations did not match who they received. However, they received exactly who they wanted – someone of strength and power. He just didn’t come in the form they expected.

Expectations. As humans, we are full of expectations. We expect people to do things a certain way. We expect specific things to happen at times we have appointed. It’s no wonder the people expected their Savior and Messiah to come in the form of a strong King. I doubt any one of them pictured a baby! Yet the promise of God was fulfilled . . . just in an unexpected way,

We, on the other side of His birth, have a better understanding of why He did have to come this way. It was the only way. Afterall, He was fully God and fully man. He came into the world humbly, lowly and in the weakest form possible.

God sent His only son to save us. God saw His suffering, sinful people and sent us His perfect love and mercy. He sent His son to share in our joyous moments and our suffering. He sent Him in fully human form so we could identify with Him, but also know Him as fully divine.

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for sending this fully human, fully divine baby to us. Thank You for sending this lowly, and weak baby into our world of darkness, so He could fully walk with us in the light. Amen.

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A Lesson in Gift Giving

This year we were hit by some unexpected bills. This made us have to really cut back on Christmas. It has been hard not buying gifts for the people I would love to buy gifts for. However, it also left me re-evaluating my whole approach to gift giving.

Throughout the year, I would see gifts in stores or things to make , but wouldn’t buy them or make them because I needed to wait for Christmas. However, after this year’s experience, I am going to change that. Starting January 1, when I see something to make or buy, I will do it.

How much more fun and exciting would it be to receive a gift at some random point in the year just because somebody thought you would like it? Or because it reminded them of you?

There is a benefit to me in this approach too. It will cause me to pay more attention to the people I love, making note about what they care about, the things they are passionate about, and the things that cause them fear or anxiety.

I believe it will make me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, neighbor, dog owner, writer, baker . . . and the list goes on.

This is my new plan for 2023.

I am just sorry it took until now to put it into action.

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REST BESIDE THE WEARY ROAD

“O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.”
– It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I have listened to many versions of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” and I have only found one that included the third stanza above.  I find this stanza to be more meaningful than the others. It recognizes how we live in a world which makes us weary – in lives that can weigh us down with crushing loads. These loads are heavy on our shoulders, bending us low. The longer we carry them, the harder it becomes to keep going. Each step becomes more painful and we become slower under the weight.

Yet, we can rejoice because help comes swiftly if we ask. We can be overwhelmed with the burdens we carry and feel too weary to even look and listen for God. In the last two lines of the stanza above we are reminded to “rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.”  Notice that Edmund Sears, the lyricist, doesn’t say “rest on the weary road”; no, he wants you to remember that you don’t have to be on the road.  You can rest beside it, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 to come to Him when we are weary and burdened.  Come to Him before we get on the weary road and He will give us rest.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary,  and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:29-31

PRAYER
Lord, when I am weak and weary, help me turn to You. When I am overwhelmed with the loads I carry, help me turn to You. Help me to look and listen for You, God and rest beside those weary roads I walk upon. Amen.

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REJOICE!

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.”
– O Come, O Come Emmanuel

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1 Timothy 5:7

The lyrics in this hymn are some of the most powerful and beautiful things I have ever heard. You can see that the overwhelming theme in this song is freedom. It is strange to associate freedom with the Christmas season, but the reality is that is why Christ came – to free us.

Christ was born to bring us victory over death and over Satan. It is only through Christ that we will have victory over the grave. Death’s dark shadows and misery are gone! He fills the world and us with His light. Until we accept Christ as our Savior, death still holds us prisoner.There will be no freedom.

The hymn says to come and “ransom captive Israel”. We are Israel. We can be held captive by so many different things: our sin, temptations, addictions, flaws, and death. Jesus came to ransom captive Israel – to ransom you and I. Without Jesus we would be held captive to law, death, and darkness. He came to give us freedom from all the darkness that can hold us and keep us captive. Victory can only come through believing in Christ,

REJOICE! He is born to set us free! Rejoice in your salvation!

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for sending Your son to save me from my captivity. Help me remember that I have victory over the grave and have freedom from anything trying to hold me captive in this world. Lord, I rejoice in You! Amen.

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BORN TO SET THY PEOPLE FREE

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.”

-Come Now Long Expected Jesus

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

For many people, the end of the year is welcomed with open arms. For a lot of people, this past year, in particular, has been a difficult one and maybe the struggles of the year don’t seem to have an end in sight. Many are looking forward to not only an end but also a new beginning. 2023 can’t come fast enough.


Just a couple of years ago, I could not wait for the new year to come. I had such an emotionally draining year and the troubles were relentless, so I looked forward to the new year. The new year meant a fresh start. It represented a new beginning where I could be released from all the burdens that plagued my family and me. I was so engrossed in the troubles and fears, I ended up being blind to the rest I could have been finding in Him.


Here I am in 2022, finding myself in the same situation. Yet, as I listen to this song, I am reminded of the One who came to release us, free us, and provide a place of rest.


Perhaps you are finding yourself in the same place right now. We don’t have to wait for the new year to get a fresh start. We can find it today. Just as the people of His time waited for the long-expected Jesus to come and free them, we do not have to wait. He is here. He has come to release us from our fears and sins, to free us, to give us hope and rest in the shadow of His wings. We can lay our burdens at the beautiful feet of Jesus.


“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

PRAYER
Lord, I am labored and heavy laden. Let my rest come from You. Help me to give my fears and sins over to You and rest in Your hope alone. Amen.

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Responding with Faith

“Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains”
– Angels We Have Heard On High

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Luke 2:1

It was the ultimate birth announcement. Christ was born!  It was the greatest news these messengers could ever share. The message was so powerful that it forced a response: the mountains replied and echoed the angels’ delight. The shepherds responded differently, though. In the song, they react with fear, confusion, and the question of why?

 “Why are we singing, praising, celebrating?”  The angels then told them about Christ being born.

The shepherds left for Bethlehem to see what the angels were talking about. Even with a host of angels delivering this message they still had to see for themselves. We can be just like those shepherds – having to see to believe. Faith is believing even though we cannot see. Faith is our response to the angels’ message. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

Just like the intensity of the message of Christ’s birth, faith demands a response.

How are we responding today?

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4

PRAYER

Lord, help my response to Your wonderful gift be my faith. Help my faith grow stronger in You every day. Help me trust and place my hope in You and Your plan for my life. Even when I can’t see the steps ahead. Amen.

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CENTER OF UNBROKEN PRAIS

“All Thy works with joy surround Thee
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays
Stars and angels sing around Thee
center of unbroken praise”
– Joyful,Joyful, We Adore Thee

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:13-14

Every time I read the Christmas Story I cannot help but think of the joy surrounding the birth of Christ. The joy that surrounded Jesus surpassed humans. It extended to all of His creation.

I love the visualization of the lyrics in the song “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” that say: Stars and angels sing around Thee. I was thinking about these lyrics as I looked up at the night sky. The sky filled with stars, which I look at today, is the same sky which sang out joyful praises on that glorious night.


Jesus was, and is, the center of unbroken praise in a broken world. No matter our circumstances or even the world, all His work surrounds Him with joy. We are His creation. We are called to praise and adore Him JOYFULLY.


Even in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we are reminded of this joyful adoration:
“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 13)

The joy we have surpasses all of our circumstances. Our praises and adoration for Him must continue unbroken. We can join in with all of creation who has sung His praise, echoing from His birth to today and forevermore. May we be lifted up to the joy divine.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:1-2

PRAYER
Lord, I praise You. I adore You. I will joyfully come to You daily and entrust my life to Your plan. To You be the blessing and honor forevermore!

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Do You Know What I Know?

“Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold”
-Do You Hear What I Hear

 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

This song is a beautiful example of what sharing the hope and love of Jesus with gentleness and respect looks like. The song builds with the smallest and weakest, a little lamb, being told of the Good News. The message continues to be told throughout the song where a mighty king is being told, not by another person of royalty, but instead by a shepherd boy. Not only does the shepherd boy actually get away with speaking to the king, but the king listens!  Then the king shares the message with the people everywhere and asks them to pray for peace.

There are so many beautiful things you can take away from this song, especially from the history of it. It is not a very old song. It was written in October 1962 during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis to be exact. People were living in fear and dread. I can only imagine the lack of hope they had. The writers of this hymn were not only sharing the hope of Jesus, but also a prayer for peace.  

In times of darkness and turmoil in this world, or when we feel hopeless in our own circumstances, we can feel like we are the “smallest and weakest.”  That is when we need to stay in the Word, stay in prayer and focus on the hope that has been shared with us. In turn, we must also be the “night wind,” “the little lamb, “the shepherd boy,” or the “mighty king” and share the message of hope and pray for peace for others and the world.

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

PRAYER

Lord, give me a spirit of evangelism;  a willingness and comfort to share the gospel and the hope that can only be found in You. Amen.

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Called to Serve

“In his master’s step he trod,
where the snow lay dented.
Heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing”
-Good King Wenceslas

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17

“Good King Wenceslas” is an interesting Christmas carol because it doesn’t mention the birth of Christ or the Nativity. In fact, the song is actually about a Duke from Bohemia. History tells us that this man was known for his kindness. The song shows an example of this.  

Here the king is watching a man gathering wood, an obvious poor man. Instead of just looking and making a note of it, he engages in conversation. The king asks where he lives and then sets out to help this man by providing him flesh, wine, and logs. The weather is harsh and his paige grows tired. The king tells him to step inside of the footprints he has made and that will make it easier. His master’s steps will help guide him. So, “in his master’s step he trod.”

Our King, our Master, has walked before us. His footsteps have set the path to the places and the people we should serve.  During this time of year, giving and serving seem to be easier and expected. As followers of Christ, these two important acts should always be on our hearts.  Afterall, Jesus tells us that He came to serve, not to be served.  This was how He lived. This is how we are to live. Let us put our feet inside His footprints and follow His lead.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

PRAYER

Lord, help me to serve humbly and to serve in love, not just during this Christmas season, but daily. Amen.

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Go and Tell

“Down in a lowly manger
Our humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation,
That blessed Christmas morn:
Go Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.”
– Go Tell It On The Mountain

“You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah,  “Here is your God!” “ Isaiah 40:9

Go and tell.

This was told to the shepherds on that glorious night. It was told by Jesus later to His disciples in what is called “The Great Commission.”

Go and tell.

 It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command – an action we are called to take. More importantly, though, it is one we should be excited about taking. Our savior is born!  Jesus, born on Christmas morning, to save us from our sins through the love of the Father who sent Him. This isn’t news we should only share during the Christmas season. This is news we should be excited about shouting from the mountaintops every day of our lives!

We were given a great gift, a miraculous gift over 2000 years ago on that blessed Christmas morn. Why wouldn’t we want to share it?  Jesus came to save us and  dwell among us until it was time for Him to go be with the Father. We need to celebrate Jesus not just for a season, but for the rest of the time we are here in this world. 

The world needed Him. It still needs him. We need Him. So “Lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid!”

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” Matthew 28:16

PRAYER

Lord, help me to share the good news of You, the beautiful Savior, not just during the Christmas season, but all throughout my life.  When I can’t share it with my words, help me to share it by my actions. Amen.

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COME AND WORSHIP

“Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!”
– Angels from the Realms of Glory

“But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20

Angels were sent by God throughout the Bible to act as messengers. They delivered messages to ordinary people who were to become important characters in the Christmas story. It was important for the people not to just hear the messages, but to really listen to the angels for the sake of His plan.  

An angel spoke to the shepherds in the field that night to tell them where to find the newborn king.

 An angel spoke to Zechariah to tell him Elizabeth would have a son, and to call him John because he would be a great joy to many.  

An angel spoke to Mary and told her she had found favor with God and she would  give birth to the son of the God Most High. 

An angel spoke to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife.

The common thread in all of these is not t the angels themselves, but their messages. Each one of their messages those many years ago echo into one profound one today – a message delivered to each and everyone of us.  The angels are singing their message to us:  “Come and worship …come and worship…..worship Christ the Newborn King.” 

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  John 4:23 

PRAYER

Lord, I give You all of my praise and worship. Help me to listen for Your message above all the noise of this world. I worship Your holy name, Lord. Amen.

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Come Let Us Adore Him

“O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord”
-“O Come All Ye Faithful”

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:17-20

From the moment Baby Jesus was born we have been called to glorify His name – to worship and adore Him. The wise men showed the first example of this by bowing down and worshiping the newborn King. Our purpose is to do the same. We show our adoration for Him through praise and worship and how we walk in our daily lives.

We welcome the Baby Jesus into the world every Christmas. We praise Him for coming into this world to save us. We glorify Him for conquering death on the cross and redeeming us. We will continue to exalt Him in Heaven. Those are just specific days and seasons. We need to remember to bow down and worship Him every day in between.

The words of this song are a beautiful invitation. We are invited to joyfully and triumphantly, in full celebration, behold and adore Christ the Lord. This isn’t something we should just be doing on Christmas morning, or at church on Sunday, but daily. Our adoration shouldn’t only be spoken, but also expressed through our actions.

So, come all ye faithful . . . let us adore Him.

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2

PRAYER

Lord, just as the wise men came to adore and behold You, I will do the same. I will do it joyfully and triumphantly – not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year. Let me worship You through words and deeds. Amen.

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OUR FINEST GIFTS

“Come they told me, Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see, Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the king, Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum, Rum pum pum pum
So to honor him, Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come”
-The Little Drummer Boy

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

The Little Drummer Boy may be a fictional character, but his story is one of faith, humility, and love. Can you imagine what it would have been like for him? I mean, here there was a newborn King to see. His fellow travelers were bringing their finest gifts and he had no gift that he felt was worthy to give a King. He was expected to bring his finest gifts too, but he was a poor boy with only a drum. He failed to see that the drum was the very gift God had given him. God gave him the ability to present a special gift to the newborn King – one that only the boy could give.

God gives us our talents, our skills, and our gifts so that we can serve Him. He gives us these “drums”. He desires for us to come to Him and play these drums. He wants us to play our best for Him.

When we use the gifts God has given us to serve Him – when we play our drums, when we play our best – He smiles at us too as we follow His will for our lives..

“All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:4

PRAYER

Lord, show me the gifts You want me to use for Your Kingdom. Grant me wisdom and guide me in their use. Amen.

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Friday’s First: First Paragraph, Fourth Chapter

Vivian Richards held her favorite coffee mug between her palms embracing its warmth.  The mug, handmade and painted with what she called a mix of goldenrod and mustard, was her favorite possession. She had found the mug sitting unloved, alone and unpopular on the shelf behind the barista taking her order at her favorite local coffee shop. With its retro coloring and slight hourglass shape it caught her eye. The barista more than happily wrapped it up for her most likely excited to have finally pawned it off on someone.

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Noel

“The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!”
-The First Noel

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:8-10

According to Merriam-Webster, Noel means a Christmas Carol. However, in olde english it is said to come from the world Nowell meaning “birthday”. It also has been said to mean “song” and “news”. These are all wonderful definitions which can be applied in their own way. For the purpose of this devotion, I am going to focus on its definition of “news”. The Good News.

Have you ever stopped to consider how even during His birth, Jesus is teaching us about humility? The angels didn’t bring the news to His extended family, to royalty, or to any rich people. Instead, the news is brought to poor, lowly shepherds. Shepherds who slept out in the cold so they could still be with their sheep, caring for them and protecting them. This was a lowly and humble job.


Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He watches over us, leads us, protects us, and brings us back when we wander off. He was born into this world, most likely surrounded by some sheep. He would give His life for His own sheep.


The news of the Messiah’s birth spread quickly. The King of Israel was born. He was born into a royalty which surpasses our understanding. This King, with such a rich title, would be the ultimate example of humility.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. “ Psalm 23:1

PRAYER

Lord, You gave us Your son to guide us, lead us, and protect us. He is our Good Shepherd. Thank You for the Good Shepherd who would leave the ninety- nine for the sake of finding the one. Help us to always listen and follow His voice. Amen.

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The Triumph of the Skies

“Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
– Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5

Hark! Otherwise translated to the words Listen! Pay Attention!

This was not a request. It was a command. Afterall, that’s what heralds do. They are official messengers sent to announce very important information. What they had to say on the night of Jesus’ birth demanded everyone’s attention. It was what everyone had waited for – the news of the arrival of the Savior.

God gave us His son so we would be saved from our sins and reconciled with Him – to be given a second birth. It was not by anything that we have done or deserve, but through His grace and mercy. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that all of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ. He also implores us on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18,20.) Hark! This is the news that we need to hear. This is the good news we need to share.

We need to join the triumph of the skies and proclaim with the angelic hosts about Jesus – the one who holds healing in His wings and gives a second birth.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:35

PRAYER

Lord, help me always have my ears open to hear You above all the noise of this world. Help me be able to hear Your still, small voice above everything else. Give me opportunities to share Your story with those who need to hear. Thank You for the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Hear the Bells

“And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God’s not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
-I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a poem by Longfellow (It was later converted into a Christmas carol). It  is a beautiful reminder of the hills and valleys we travel through in this world.  Written during the Civil War and after the death of his daughter, despair and grief were Longfellow’s  focus – at least in the beginning. He couldn’t see God through the chaos and sadness. He became hopeless. He found no peace and felt no goodwill to men. The poem was written in 1863 yet the words still speak strongly today.  

Even in our darkest days, God is still with us and brings us out of darkness into His light.  Longfellow heard those bells and he was reminded that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”  His despair turned to hope and thanksgiving. The peace which rang out with those church bells is the same peace offered to us. It is a gift through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Church bells are one of my favorite sounds.  One day when I was traveling, I stopped by this old painted church to take pictures. I pulled into the empty parking lot and right when I got out of the car, the church bells rang out the hymn, “Blessed Assurance”.  I froze. Tears streamed down my face as I stood in awe remembering the blessed assurance we were given on Christmas morning so long ago – an assurance bringing peace, hope and goodwill to men.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;” 2 Corinthians 4:8

PRAYER

Lord, as I listen to Christmas hymns this season, help me to stop and meditate on the beautiful messages of peace and goodwill to men that they offer. Let the words resonate in my heart not only at Christmas, but all throughout the new year.

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Let Nothing You Dismay

“God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy”
-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

God did not give us a spirit of fear or worry. We can be reminded of what was told to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1:21, “See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

God has given us a hope that can only be found in Him. God is our refuge of strength during times of trouble and provides rest for our weary souls. During all seasons, we can turn to Psalm 23 to be reminded of the promise He gave to restore our souls and lead us “beside quiet waters”.

Even when we do go astray, step off of His path and follow our own instead, God still loves us and will never leave us. Isaiah 53:6 compares us to sheep that wander away from their shepherd: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” We shall not be dismayed.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

PRAYER

Lord, help me to not be dismayed when things look bleak. Help me remember to go to You in prayer and be strengthened by Your comfort and joy. Amen.

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PERFECT LIGHT

“O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.”
-We Three Kings

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he 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

These three kings followed the star that shined with royal brightness, guiding them to the Perfect Light: Baby Jesus. They were guided by a star, we are guided by the Word of God. It guides us to who Jesus is and how and why we are called to imitate Him and His ways.

We can be the light in this world for so many people. We can shine our living light and outshine the darkness which consumes this world.

How do we walk in the light? The first thing we have to do is stay faithful in the time we spend with the Perfect Light. This means, through our faith, maturing with His help, so we can lead others to Him. Focus on the reminder from John in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

We need to be guided so we can lead others. Ask for wisdom and guidance. Ask HIs light to shine through so you can light the way through the darkness, leading others to the Perfect Light. It’s a procession which will never end on this side of Heaven.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13

PRAYER

Lord, help me to walk in the light daily and be a faithful, leading example to guide others to You – our Perfect Light. Amen.

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ADVENT-URE

“Oh they sailed to Bethlehem
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
Oh they sailed to Bethlehem
On Christmas Day in the morning”
I Saw Three Ships

“And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:3-5

Although we know ships didn’t actually sail into Bethlehem since it is landlocked, this hymn reminds us of adventure. In this case, an adventure taking Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem. Normally, we see Mary depicted as riding on a donkey, but maybe she was riding a camel (which was nicknamed the “ship of the desert”) Whatever the case may be, Mary was on an adventure that would change her life and the lives of many.

An adventure can be described as an exciting or dangerous experience. The adventure started with Mary and Joseph, then continued with the magi who came to worship Baby Jesus. Later, we have the disciples who dropped their fishing poles and left other jobs to follow Jesus. Everyone who follows Jesus sets forth on the ultimate adventure. It was an exciting one, but a dangerous one for the first followers. However, the result was worth it – eternal life.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we choose to travel on this adventure through this life on earth with Him. We aren’t promised a perfect, smooth or easy journey, but we know it will be exciting. There will be moments of calmness like floating on peaceful waters. There will be others that will be treacherous like the roaring seas. However, at the finish line, we too are given the ultimate prize – eternal life.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” 1 Peter 1:8

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for walking with me through all of my circumstances. Thank You for the calm waters and for being with me during life’s storms and roaring seas. May I always remain joyful in the promises You have made. Amen.

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THE CHRIST THORN

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all. – The Holly and the Ivy

“And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.” John 19:2

Holly and Ivy have been decorations for the Christmas season for decades. The Holly’s green leaves with red berries make beautiful accents. There is a powerful symbolism written in each leaf and berry. The Ivy, in its own right, displays strength in what its vine is rooted in. This Christmas carol displays the power of what we may consider as simple accents in its lyrics.

The edges of Holly are prickly and as “sharp as any thorn”. These represent the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head by the soldiers. In fact, in Scandinavia and Germany, Holly is known as The Christ Thorn. The red berries symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins upon the cross.

Ivy is a vine. Vines need something to cling to if they are going to grow. Ivy can be a reminder for us to cling to God’s Word, to His promises, to the hope which is found in Christ and Christ alone. We must “let our roots grow up in him” (Colossians 2:7).

It is my prayer for all of us to look at these decorations differently this Christmas and for every Christmas to come. They are more than just Holly and Ivy. When you look at them, stop and rejoice in celebrating His birth. Rejoice in Him who came to take away the sins of the world.

He bore the crown of thorns for us. He shed his blood for us. He came to redeem us all.

Rejoice!

“ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7

PRAYER

Great and merciful Lord, thank you for sending your only Son to us. Thank you for the undeserving redemption You have given us all through the cross. Amen.

© Raelyn Pracht 2022

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Friday’s First: First paragraph of the fourth chapter

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December 2 Devotional: UNCHANGING

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!”
-O Christmas Tree

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Jesus was the promise of the new covenant – a promise from a true and faithful God. He came into this world to transform it. Not only did He change history forever, but He continues to change each and every person who chooses to follow Him.Yet, despite of all the changing He does in the world and in us, He remains the same. All the promises of who He is are perfect and everlasting. However, His followers are made new. They will be given a new heart and a steadfast spirit while He works His will in each of their lives.

Our transformation is a continuous journey, full of repentance and thanksgiving. He makes us new as He remains unvarying, just as it says in Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He uses transformation, but uses it on us. His promises abide and He remains faithful to each of them. The changes that take place within us serve as a reminder that no matter where we are at, we can never be too far from His reach. Jesus will find us and continue to change us from the inside out.

God is true and faithful, Our trust in Him should be firm and unchanging. He has richly decorated our lives through Him.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

PRAYER

Lord, You are faithful and unchanging. Your promises are ones we can hold to as You transform us, giving us new hearts and changing us into who You want and need us to be. Amen.

Raelyn Pracht 2022

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A THRILL OF HOPE – December 1

“O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn”

– O Holy Night

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:19-21

Webster’s Dictionary defines thrill as the experience of a sudden sharp feeling of excitement. 

The French poet Placide Cappeau chose this perfect word to describe the hope felt by the people on the night of Jesus’s birth in his poem, “Minuit, Christeins,” or translated in English,  “Midnight, Christians”. The poet captures the essence of the people who were heavily burdened by their sins and weary from the darkness of the world. The hymn and music later composed from this poem grab us even today as we wait for our “souls to feel their worth.”

We wait with eager longing – waiting in hope of being set free from the bondage of the world and the burdens weighing us down daily. It’s incredible, living on the other side of that night. Can you even imagine the exhilaration of the people when they heard the Messiah was born? Freedom was born. Hope was born.

The villagers went to bed on a night that probably felt the same as every night before. But this particular night was transformed into a Holy night.  It was a night that transformed the world and continually transforms us. 

Lean into it daily this Christmas season. We can always experience A THRILL OF HOPE.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for giving us hope – for transforming who we are. Thank you for the hope You have given us and the freedom we can find in You. Amen.
Raelyn Pracht 2022

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ADVENT: Waiting With Anticipation

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:18-19

The Christmas season for me as a child was an incredible lesson in learning to wait.  First, I had to wait for the Sears catalog to come to the house so I could circle everything I wanted.  Then, I had to wait for Christmas break to begin while I simultaneously waited and hoped for that first snow to fall.  Next, I had to wait for Christmas morning to come.  I would be so excited that I could hardly sleep!

However, the worst thing – the absolute hardest thing I had to wait for – was for my parents to get their cups of coffee before we could start opening the presents.  That was excruciating for a child!  We would sit trying to guess what was in each gift while the coffee pot brewed the coffee slower than molasses.  Finally, the moment would come.  With their cups of fresh coffee in their hands, Christmas would begin.

Now I am an adult and I still get just as excited for Christmas to come only for different reasons.  I look forward to the church services, the waiting and anticipating of Christmas music to come on the radio, and for Christmas morning so I can celebrate the greatest gift of all – the one not wrapped in wrapping paper, but wrapped in swaddling cloths. 

Photo by TheWonderOfLife on Pexels.com

This celebration is always worth the wait.

REFLECTION QUESTION

How has the Christmas season changed for you since Christ has been in your life?

REFLECTION VERSES

Psalm 27:14; Psalm 30:6; Lamentations 3:24-26; Luke 3:15

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The Christmas Cardinal

I watched with the eyes and heart of the young child I was as my father picked up a box. It was time to decorate the Christmas tree. It was something we always did the day after Thanksgiving.  My father had strung the lights on the tree and wrapped it in shiny silver garland. My brothers and sisters had strewn about the strands of matching tinsel upon the branches as well. Of course, mine were all put in clumps at my eye level. No one seemed to care, though. This was a family event, one enjoyed by all of us, despite our age differences.

When the children had finished their part, it was time for my father to place the first ornament on the tree. He carefully opened the box and took out the only ornament inside. It was a white dove with glimmers of light blue on its wings with the faintest shades of grey on its underbelly. Its tail, which bore more blues and greys along its feathers, stretched out and over my father’s large, rough hands. My father, who always seemed stoic and strong, held the dove in one hand while gently caressing it with the other, offering a sense of gentleness he held deep inside.

He reached near the top of the tree and clipped the solitary dove to a high branch. It was beautiful. It sat strong, yet peaceful, its colors even more striking against the forest green pines. 

It looked angelic perched atop strands of silver tinsel and garland.  

My father turned to us and said, “this dove is for your Aunt Connie … my sister.”  He told us the story of how when she passed, at just the age of 16, he took this dove off one of the funeral arrangements. He wanted something to remember her by. So, a new Christmas tradition in our family was born. Every Christmas from then on our family would place a dove on the tree to remember someone who has passed on. It would be the first ornament to be placed on the tree and the last ornament to be removed.  Although I was a small child at the time, not more than five years old, I inherently understood the meaning behind this memorable moment.

Many Christmases passed and life moved on, just as other relatives did too. There would be more doves resting upon the branches of the tree. Each one held memories and love, bringing a piece of those who went before us, to our Christmas. The doves watched over us in their unique way.  It was more than just enjoying the memories of them. It was as if they were there celebrating Christmas with us in only the way the magic of Christmas can bring.

I knew. We all knew, this tradition started by my father, would be one each of us would continue in our own families. After I got married, I was blessed to spend the first twenty Christmases without any doves upon our tree.  Every year, I would decorate the tree with my husband and daughter the day after Thanksgiving. Every year I would be grateful for a tree without doves

 It was 2015 before the first bird would adorn our tree.  

Who could have known that the first person to be represented on our Christmas tree would be the person who actually started the tradition? My father.

However, I didn’t represent him with a dove. Instead, I chose a cardinal.

It was the last winter my dad would experience. It snowed heavily that January. When the snow finally stopped, my mom and dad stepped outside to look at it. Their driveway was lined with evergreens covered in snow and the yard was nothing but freshly snow-covered hills. They stood there in awe, soaking in the bright, painted scenery when they looked up out at the branches of one of the trees. On the branch sat eight cardinals in striking red against the backdrop of white

When my father died unexpectedly the following July, I stood in the very yard which had been covered with snow months earlier, I stopped in front of the tree. I imagined the scene of that day and how beautiful it must have been. At that moment, I knew a cardinal would adorn my Christmas tree just like it had that brisk winter day. 

I chose a cardinal with contrasting shades of deep reds on its wings and the faintest shades of black on its underbelly. Its tail, which bore the same colors along its feathers, stretched out and over my hand. Holding the cardinal for the first time, I was brought right back to 1978, standing beside the family Christmas tree, watching my dad running his fingers along the dove.

I placed it on the highest branch making sure it looked back out on my family. I gently whispered to my daughter, “this is for your grandfather . . . my father.”

It’s the first ornament I put on the tree and the last one I take off the tree.

Follow me on Facebook – Raelyn Pracht, Author

© Raelyn Pracht 2022

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FRIDAY FIRSTS: First Paragraph of the Third Chapter

Pastor John Edmundson walked the path lined with small pebbles and obstinate grass refusing to stay hidden under the stone edging. He paused in mid stride as the original bell tower, unharmed by a church fire decades before, came into view. Built in 1890, the tower, made of large stones, served as the entrance to the indistinguishable church sitting just beyond it.

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A Little Bit About Me

I thought it might be a good idea to introduce myself to you. There is a lot I could tell you, but I thought I would keep it short. It’s best if you take me in small doses anyway. (That’s a joke. It’s okay to laugh.)

  • My name is Raelyn Pracht (like Procter and Gamble) and I am about to turn 50 in March. You would think I would be sad, but I am not. My 40’s have been the most difficult decade, so I am ready for a new chapter!
  • I love Jesus! and my husband, daughter and my dog and your dog, if you have one.
    • I currently live in Texas, but I want to win the lottery and move to Germany or Italy.
    • It took me 28 years to get my Bachelor’s Degree, but I finally finished in 2018. My journey took me to two community colleges, a year at George Mason University, a year at Wright State University, a semester at Virginia Commonwealth University, and finally, finishing my degree in Marketing Management at Western Governor’s University (WGU). Side note: my favorite team is the Ohio State Buckeyes because Ohio is where I really consider myself from.
    • I have the blessing of working for a Christian organization as a Marketing Specialist. In January, I will have been there 11 years!
    • I started my writing career with writing Advent and Lent Devotionals for my church. For a long time, God had me on the path of writing devotions, but has since brought me into different genres that have challenged me and helped me grow as a writer.
    • My published titles include:

    -Restoration (Haiku) https://whispersandechoesmag.home.blog/tag/raelyn-pracht/

    -Falling Leaves, Warm Memories (Short Story Contest Winner)

    -Restoration of the Baker Hotel (Non-Fiction) https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/baker-hotel-mineral-wells-texas/

    -Be Still and Notice (Tales from the Next Step Community) https://www.amazon.com/Be-Still-Notice-Tales-Community/dp/B09K281YWN

    -Take My Moments and My Days (Tales from the Next Step Community)https://www.amazon.com/Take-My-Moments-Days-Community/dp/B0BKS5QHBB

    • I am currently working on my first ever Christian fiction book. This story was prompted by God and He more than nudged me to write it. In fact, He pretty much shoved me ( in the most loving way possible )
    • When I am not working or writing I love to watch all types of movies, laugh way too hard at Mystery Science Theater episodes, read, do jigsaw puzzles and pretend I actually know what I am doing on my Cricut.
    • I am a Dunkin Donuts fanatic, am obsessed with “The Greatest Showman”, adore Snoopy, love music from the 20’s – 40’s with Nat King Cole being my favorite.
    • I love anything to do with Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper.
    • My favorite classic authors are Sir Author Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Shakespeare and Lord Byron.
    • I love sports!
    • I have survived Melanoma four times and other skin cancers too many times to count. In fact, 2022 is the first year I haven’t had to have any surgery, praise the Lord!
    • My new dream in life is to become a minimalist.
    • Finally, I am a nerd. I love to make lists of practically everything.

    Tell me some things about you!

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    THE VOICE OF DOUBT

    I created a Facebook page for me as an author. I can tell you that as soon as I did those voices of doubt and negativity spoke louder than they ever have. They screamed questions like “Who are you to be doing this?” and “You are way out of your league.” The latter one’s voice was especially consuming as I scrolled through other author pages and saw another book of theirs being published, thousands of followers, you get the idea . . .

    You have probably fallen into this comparison trap as well. Why is it that the voices of doubt and negativity can speak so clearly above all the other noise?

    I will tell you that this is when I come back to the WHY. WHY am I writing? WHY am I trying?

    It’s simple.

    God has led me to write. Everything I write is brought to the page by the Holy Spirit graciously leading the words.

    The truth is that I don’t know if this novel I am writing is meant to be published or if it was meant for me to write as a healing process for some difficult events in my life.

    All I do know is that I am supposed to write it.

    It’s following His plan. It’s trying desperately to block out all other voices, and only listen to His as I do it.

    It’s not easy.

    Maybe God never intended it to be?

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    FRIDAY FIRST: The first paragraph of the second chapter

    Mabel Stanton stood alone in front of the yellow, bungalow-style house she grew up in. It sat just around the corner from Main Street. She loved this house, so she was not about to let the town take it when they rezoned. Despite the very generous amount of money they had offered her, she would fight it. There was no amount of money in Mabel’s mind to convince her to sell her “life.”

    Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook at Raelyn Pracht, Author

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    AUTUMNAL GLORY: An American Haiku

    Allen Ginsberg created the American Haiku. The traditional Haiku involves seventeen syllables down the page. The American Haiku is seventeen syllables across the page.

    A crimson world dances on the path of golden autumnal glory.

    Copyright 2022 Raelyn Pracht

    I created a new Author page on Facebook. Please visit and follow me at: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087576815887

    or search for Raelyn Pracht, Author

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    FRIDAY FIRSTS: First Paragraph of the First Chapter

    Charlotte Embers placed her right ear down on the cold edge of the railroad tracks. She heard nothing. She looked both ways then quickly crossed over the quiet wooden tracks. As a kid, she would only have stopped to listen. She never thought to actually look both ways. If she heard nothing, she would happily rise and try to take long strides in her summer dress, stepping on every plank down the path of the railroad. 

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    TBT: WAITING BY THE PHONE My First Ever Blog Post

    How many of us, both women and men, remember sitting by the phone waiting for that person we liked to call us? I admit that I even picked up the receiver to check for a dial tone just to make sure the phone was actually working.  Looking back, it’s funny, albeit, even a little pathetic, to picture ourselves doing such a thing.  The reality is, however, that we still do it.  We still wait by our phones for that phone call … the phone call with the test results we are anxiously awaiting, the phone call that hopefully has a job offer attached, etc.

    What about when we are on the other end?  When we receive a  call or text from someone and they wait anxiously for us to pick up or respond?  There is a level of disappointment when the voicemail picks up or the text, or even email, isn’t responded to.

    Now, imagine what it must be like for God.  He calls us and waits for us to pick up, to respond, – to answer His call.  I can only imagine how many times we don’t hear “the ring.”  Or worse, we hear the ring, but still don’t answer.  Sometimes, like me, we may even answer the call waiting, putting God and His call on hold.  I did that with this blog.  I knew He wanted me to write it, but I let the other calls of life (mostly distractions) be answered before His.

    Many of us are waiting for God’s call.  Be ready to respond and to answer when He does.

    Isaiah 6:8 says,  “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

    ©Raelyn Pracht 2016

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