As I write this letter from my home office, I’m wearing red plaid pajamas and a sling. Ten days ago, I had shoulder surgery to repair my left rotator cuff. Therefore, this year has looked far different than usual in the days leading up to Christmas. The surgery forced me to slow down. Essentially to stop. (I will confess though that beforehand I ran crazily around, working to get everything done for Christmas in advance.) 

The demands of this season often leave us with little time to ponder what we celebrate. Parties, shopping, cleaning, cooking and more leave us tired and frazzled. I honestly don’t think we should throw it all out, but we do need to make some choices and prioritize, so we can focus on what’s important.

Five years ago, after my husband retired, we moved from Houston to be near our grandchildren. Ponder is the name of the little town in North Texas where we now live. The word “ponder” means “to consider something deeply and thoroughly; to meditate.” 

Beautiful irony, right? The gal who thrives on “to do” lists and a full calendar lives in Ponder. My address regularly reminds me to slow down and meditate on the things of God. We can even do that in the middle of the busiest time of year.

Mary Pondered God’s Miracle

The stable was certainly a busy place the night Jesus was born. On the heels of Mary’s labor and delivery a bunch of shepherds straight from the fields rushed in to visit. But Mary didn’t get all worked up. In fact, Scripture tells us she took the time to deeply consider everything God was doing. 

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 NIV

We can do the same. Even in the bustle of Christmas we can take a few moments to ponder God’s gracious gift to us in Jesus. Though He was God, He humbled Himself to become man. He willingly on a cross to pay the price for our sins so that we could be made right with God. Jesus came to change our lives, now and eternally. 

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10 ESV

Small challenge to Ponder

I encourage you to make some space this week to ponder the greatest gift ever given. The following Scriptures make great passages for reflection and prayer. Choose one to read and ponder sometime this week. Or ponder them all between now and Christmas day:

  • Isaiah 9:6-7
  • John 1:9-18
  • Philippians 2:5-8
  • Romans 5:6-11
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

A Little News from the Howards

We’ve had a wonderful, but active year. I wrote and launched a new devotional book through Romans and had a busy speaking calendar. Wayne and I traveled to visit friends and even took a family vacation to the beach! (Thus, the pink flamingo themed family pic!) AND, Wayne and I both had surgery. Believe it or not, he had arm surgery to repair two torn triceps tendons four weeks before my shoulder surgery. He is still wearing a brace so the two of us together make quite a sight.

So, although the surgery was not welcome, I am grateful for the forced pause. I have slept in, rested, and watched corny Christmas movies. I have contemplated God’s blessings. I have woken in the night and heard God’s prompt to pray for others. 

This week, I plan to spend some time evaluating my spiritual health and setting some goals for the new year. (If you’d like to know more about this, see “Plan for Spiritual Growth in the New Year.) We will also spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our family. AND this year, I don’t have to do a thing. That’s one plus of the sling – our daughters are doing all the cooking!

May you have a beautiful holiday celebrating the birth of our Savior,


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