I love to read and I love Christmas. I love small intimate bookstores and I love Christmas. See a pattern forming here? So for me there is nothing better than combining the two…well add I love Christian book stores and Jesus and Christmas, there is my ultimate combination. One town over from us is a small family owned Christian book store. Small as in if I didn’t stop to look at a thing I could walk the perimeter of the store in less than a minute. It’s small but impactful. Every year I walk in around Christmastime and select a book or two to read. It calms me during what could be a hurried season and fills me with the joy and peace of what this time of year is all about. Here are 5 of my favorites…it was hard to narrow it down, but these 5 stand out for me.
Rick Warren’s The Purpose of Christmas. I have read this book every year for the past 6 years I’m guessing. I love his writing style – simplistic and to the point. Filled with wonderful current real life scenarios he makes the three purposes of Christmas come alive. Each time I read it I come away with something new. And since I’ve read it so many times I love how each year it is more and more relevant. To quote the inside front cover, “Regardless of your background, religion, problems or circumstances, Christmas really is the best news you could get. In his powerful yet compassionate voice, Rick Warren explains how God designed Christmas to meet your three deepest needs and how understanding and receiving God’s three Christmas gifts to you will transform your life forever.” For me it’s a must read year after year.
If you are looking for an Advent devotional, Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift, unwrapping the full love story of Christmas, is hands down my number one, year after year go to. Ann has a unique way of writing that instantly draws me in so that I feel as though she is looking me straight in the eye speaking only to me, that is a true gift. Her retelling of the lineage of Jesus is not only eloquently done, but gives a deep understanding of where this amazing love story all began…all the way back with Jesse the father of David, and brings is all full circle to you and I today. “I don’t want a Christmas you can buy. I don’t want a Christmas you can make. What I want is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.” -Ann Voskamp. She has a children’s book as well as ornaments for your tree you can get to hang up each day as you read your devotional. You can read more about Ann and her beautiful gifts over on her site, www.aholyexperience.com
And in the midst of waiting and hearing from Jesus during the season of Advent, who doesn’t love some heart warming love stories? Or a warm fuzzy friend and family story? You know you have the Hallmark and LifeTime movies cued up. Well, I love them just as much as the next person, so here are my top three favorites to date.
A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher is a quaint story of two couples from different worlds colliding together. A Christian fiction novel that is set in Lancaster County (about an hour from where we live) it wraps you in the warmth of love, forgiveness, and peace. The sprinkling of Amish customs is always fun for me. Just under 200 pages this book is heartwarming and is a fun read during the Christmas season.
The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans is indeed a beautifully told current day love story. The story is centered around a woman who has warded off finding love after several broken relationships. (isn’t that how they all start 😉 ) She sets off on a journey of finding herself and finally pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. During a writing conference she finds the love that she always hoped for but never thought existed for her. The Mistletoe Inn is the perfect love story this time of year.
Shelley Shepard Gray writes a beautiful story in Grace. What could be a better setting than snowed in at an Amish bed and breakfast at Christmastime? This novel is filled with secrets of it’s characters that keep you guessing all through the story. I loved how the characters came together during a time that could be stressful. The inn keepers are tested by unexpected guests and the guests various secrets slowly unfold as they become friends during their stay. Amidst the seasonal sentiment of this book, peace is really at the heart of it all. Unexpected bonus for me – this book includes recipes that they supposedly serve at the B&B. Our favorite from them is the Orange Cranberry Bread. I suggest flipping to the back, making one of the recipes and enjoying it with a cup of coffee while you read the book!
My desire is to stir a yearning for finding Jesus in all the moments of Christmas this year. My favorite part of Christmas is the joy of the waiting of our Savior to be born. It’s in the peace that comes when we allow it, and in the small moments of quiet. For me it’s in the reading of these Christian love stories, the number one love story so beautifully written just for us by our Creator. I have loved these books at Christmastime because they are all centered around the common theme of the Ultimate Love Story. May you be blessed during your journey to Christmas.