Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sweet Holy Child

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:10 NIV

I was thumbing through Christmas music for the choir to present to our congregation at the retirement village when I came across a tender-hearted arrangement of the spiritual “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.” One line in the lyric demanded I stop and take notice:

Sweet little Holy Child/Didn't know Who You was.

I flashed back to the moment the apostle John chose to introduce us to the Master. He could have used the birth announcement (like Luke) or the genealogy (like Matthew). He could have jumped into the action (like Mark). But there, for all to read, amid the imagery of light and life, grace and truth, beginnings and The Word is this line, consistent with the old spiritual:

He was in the world, and … the world did not recognize him.

Devastating indictment of humanity. Your Creator entered the world He made. And guess what? You didn’t know Who He was!

How could they not know?

Before I’m quick to indict them, what about me? I say I know Who He is; I recognize His authority over the universe. But what about His authority over my life? If I recognize Him, what difference does that make? Have you ever wondered the very thing?

Let’s take our lead from those who did recognize Jesus—at the first Christmas and in the 33½ years that followed. They travelled long and far, left work undone, jeopardized lives and livelihoods. They gave gifts that cost them. They claimed Him publicly even when it was dangerous. Consider Peter and John, dragged before the same religious body that just weeks before had condemned Jesus to death. Caiaphas and Annas the high priests were among those who demanded the disciples stop preaching in Jesus’ name. “But Peter and John answered … ‘We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20 NASB).

We can’t stop recognizing Him once we see Him and know Him for ourselves.

In a world where it’s increasingly unpopular to claim the Christ of the Word, may we follow the lead of Peter and John and make this our hearts’ Christmas prayer:

Sweet Jesus, I know Who You are.

Because I know You, I dedicate my life to speaking truth about You.

Blessings and prayers,


 © 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email:

"Sweet Little Jesus Boy," by Robert MacGimsey

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Day Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Table

"Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 
2 Chronicles 20:21

It was the day before Thanksgiving. People everywhere were preparing to loosen their belts, drinking diet shakes, and anticipating a mega-binge on the biggest meal of the year. Women were cooking all snug in their kitchens with visions of browning birds and chestnut dressing dancing in their heads. We, however, hadn't planned quite so well—so I sent Mom out to the store for a few last-minute staples—canned pumpkin and refrigerated pie crusts for, well, you know, "homemade" pie.

Mom stashed her few must-haves into her cart and got in her favorite checker's line. As she wished her friend a "Happy day-before-Thanksgiving," Mom asked casually, "Are you cooking this year?"
Her friend teared up—right there at her register, "I've done it every year of my marriage. But this year with my husband shut in and fighting to recover from cancer surgery, and with me dividing my time between caregiving and working here, my niece asked if I wouldn't mind letting her cook the bird and host the family this year. All I have to do is show up tomorrow. She doesn't know what a gift this is to me."

As a sometimes-caregiver myself, I teared up when Mom relayed the story to me. I know too well the fact that caregiving requires juggling, time management, and shedding all tasks except the absolutely most essential. Non-essentials like shopping for Christmas gifts, planning for (and attending) holiday parties, and preparing a holiday meal go by the wayside leaving a harried caregiver feeling a sense of loss to add to every other emotion she's experiencing. And at once, the holiday season becomes another source of guilt, another source of pain, and another source of sorrow.

Give a caregiver a gift card, and chances are it won't get spent—because she can't get out to shop for herself. Give a caregiver the gift of time, though, and you've given her the most valuable present you could buy. What do I mean? Here are four gifts of time you could give to the caregiver you know.

The Gift of a Meal
This is the gift our checker-friend received from her niece. But it doesn't have to be so extreme or so elaborate. Carrying in a nice, home-cooked meal (complete with throw-away dishware and utensils), delivering it hot, and leaving the family to enjoy it is a tangible gift of one of life's necessities to an overwhelmed caregiver. It's also a way of telling her you're "with her" in spirit—and a demonstration of your thoughtful care. It's easy to give her a quick hug and tell her you're praying for her, but in this way, she'll know you took time and thought to ease her burden, while allowing her to check one must-do off her endless to-do list.

The Gift of Sitting
Many caregivers are tied to their ailing loved ones 24/7 and can't leave without arranging for a sitter. If your caregiver friend is in this situation, a thoughtful gift of time is for you to sit with her loved one for a few hours so she can do something that will refresh and rejuvenate her.
A real splurge is to give your friend a gift card for dinner, a movie, a massage, a makeover, even an overnight stay in an area hotel—and then give the gift of time so she'll be able to use the card on a day when she needs relief from her burdening responsibilities. Church small groups or care teams can pitch in for overnight stays. You might be giving a caregiver her only full night's sleep in as long as she can remember. Talk about a gift of time. This can be one of the most beneficial.

The Gift of Housecleaning
If housecleaning is a spiritual gift, I can tell you I don't have it. But I know that when caregiving gets most intense, things like vacuuming and dusting, laundry and cleaning bathrooms lose any luster they might otherwise have for even the cleanest freaks among us. So, a perfect gift for the caregiver on your list is the gift of housecleaning.
One option is to do cleaning for her yourself. I have a friend who spends a day each week doing an elder friend's laundry. This same gift can be especially meaningful to a harried caregiver who may have confided in you that she is unnerved by her household's multiplying pile of dirty linens and unmentionables.
Another option is to give the gift of a cleaning service to work for your friend when it's most convenient for her. Prepaying or having the cleaning service bill you for the work are two ways to make this fit into the caregiver's schedule.

The Gift of Nearness
One of the saddest byproducts of long-term caregiving is that caregivers often feel detached from special events—like church Christmas concerts and family holiday gatherings. But, with technology, it's easy to "be there" even if you're not really there.

Making a digital video recording of a play where your friend's child or grandchild is performing is one way to share the event with her, even from a distance. So is setting up a web cam and letting everyone at the event talk to her live. Even making a simple telephone call during a Christmas party can make her feel more part of the festivities. Just be careful to ask whether it's a good time to talk (when an ailing father is calling out for his dinner or a recovering surgery patient needs a bandage change, a phone call wouldn't be a welcome gift of time).

The bottom line is that caregivers are easy to overlook in the busyness of the holiday season. Their circumstances may not allow them to fully participate in festivities, but they'd welcome the thoughtful gifts of time from a compassionate friend like you who hasn't forgotten them.

Blessings and prayers,


 © 2010, 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: This was first published as "Merry Christmas Caregiver" in Julie's ebook: Pearls to Treasure (Joy Media, 2010)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Families of Christmas - The Family that Turns to Each Other

A personal, pre-Christmas devotional video you might enjoy today!

Blessings and prayers,


© 2015, Joy Media Productions. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

In Oblivion

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. 

Micah 5:2 NASB

I’m fascinated (and sometimes perplexed) by what goes viral on social media. Maybe it’s a cute baby (or puppy) doing something darling. Other times it’s something troubling done by someone who should know better. Seldom, though, is it an everyday, daily task common to womankind.

Getting up before dawn to trudge out in the snow so we can make the commuter train and get to work on time. Tossing a load of clothes into the washer or running the vacuum when everything in our body screams to be on the couch snoozing. Preparing a meal for our family when we’d like—just this once—to be served instead of serving. Unless something remarkable happens during these daily comings and goings, not one person takes notice of our sacrifices in these monotonous events.

Laboring in oblivion is where most of us spend our days. Keeping a roof over the heads of our loved ones; being sure they’re fed and clothed and well-stocked in necessities. That’s where our energy tanks get drained to the dregs.

I see that kind of dailyness when I read Micah’s now-famous prophecy about Bethlehem. It’s a snapshot of tens of thousands of daily days.

But you Bethlehem …

An insignificant place, a community of dozens (maybe hundreds) of families keeping flocks fed, baking small cakes of bread in stone ovens, sweeping dust from rocky floors in dark cave-like dwellings, trying to eek a living out of sandy ground.

Too small to be noticed. Too inconsequential to warrant a second glace from outsiders.

But you Bethlehem …

Even so, for centuries this unassuming place sheltered the remnants of David’s kingly line. For it was to this tiny place that a young man with that royal birthright (see Matthew 1’s genealogy) and his pregnant bride would be called to return – to his family home for generations. And so would begin a sequence of events that would rock the planet from that generation through ours and beyond.

But you Bethlehem … you will shelter the King of kings.

This striking turn of events makes me wonder what eternal significance is taking place in the inconsequential events of our dailyest days? What person are we impacting for the kingdom of God—simply by a touch on a shoulder, an understanding smile, or a word of comfort? What post on our social media account will encourage a distant friend to keep pressing on for one more day?

But you Bethlehem … but you [fill in your name here] …

Though your day be small and insignificant … though you toil in oblivion … though your life seems spent in a million meaningless tasks. Even so, be assured that God sees you and has reserved something remarkable for you. It just may be hiding in a very small package in the Judean countryside of your life.

Blessings and prayers,

 © 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: