Monday, December 14, 2009

Guardian of the Flame

by Virelle Kidder

My mother had remarkable zeal for Christmas. Weeks in advance, she would come home from teaching school and bake late into the night. I helped clean the house and decorate the tree while my older brother Roger wired the house with Christmas lights, transforming our humble red house into a place of magical beauty. Following the church candlelight service, a crowd of happy people crunched through the snow to our house for cocoa and cookies.

We were, like many, quite alone in the years after my father left. Our Christmas open house was my mother's supreme effort to make us feel complete. It almost worked.

Despite years in church and Sunday school, God was more a distant relative I wished I knew. I grew up with a gnawing sense of incompleteness, and longed to find meaning and purpose in life. Strangely, it was shortly before Christmas years later that it found me.

My husband Steve was fully absorbed with his new job at Johns Hopkins University, and I was home with a two year old. We wanted friends, but were both hesitant when Steve's officemate his wife invited us to attend their church. We had nothing in common with "religious types," but Steve said, "Let's be nice and go just once."

Sitting in church that Sunday, my temples pounded. Hymns and Scripture verses long ago ignored called to me from my childhood. Could others tell I didn't belong here? Oddly, I felt jealous of their peace. They looked happy.

First thing Monday morning I began tearing through the unpacked boxes in our basement. At last, I found my mildewed Bible from fifth grade. I resolved to read it cover to cover. I opened to Genesis, chapter 1. Same old story; I've heard this a hundred times, and quickly slammed it shut.

No one told me God could hear my thoughts. A soft Voice whispered, Why not read as if it were true? I opened my Bible again. Suddenly I was listening to the most interesting person I had ever heard. By afternoon I was still reading in my pajamas. I couldn't stop.

I read for weeks until one day, a picture popped in my mind of a beautiful old house with wide porches, brightly lit at night. Music, laughter and lively conversation carried onto the porch where I stood in the dark, peeking in. I saw a feast and a fire on the hearth, much like the Christmas open houses from my childhood, with one important difference. There was a Father here whose face mirrored love and warmth at His children's presence. This was God's family, and I desperately wanted to be inside. But how?

A voice taunted, Why would God want you? You don't fit in this crowd! It was true. I considered giving up. Instead, I marched upstairs to our bedroom, knelt down and prayed out loud, "Lord, help me find the way! Please don't let me go!"

Verses I'd read made sense. Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Our friends explained that God already knew I was a hopeless mess and loved me anyway. Opening the door to Heaven was a gift that cost God everything. It was on the cross Jesus died to pay for my sins. He rose again to prove forever that He is the Truth. Weeping at such love, I knelt and gave Christ my life. I found that, with or without a happy family, no one is ever complete without Jesus.


Virelle Kidder is a conference speaker and the author of six books and numerous articles whose passion is sharing the love of God with women around the world. For her latest books, please visit her at and


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Guardian of the Flame by T.L. Higley is the third book in the historical fiction Seven Wonders series. Sophia has spent her life keeping the fire at the top of the Lighthouse of Alexandria lit and encouraging the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom at the city's famed Library. Both are threatened by the arrival of Julius Caesar and his troops. Even worse, the wall she has built around her heart is in danger from the glances from Pilus Prior Bellus, a leader of the centurions. Higley's series about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world just keeps getting better and better! This novel is the perfect blend of history and fiction. She takes the true story of the burning of Alexandria and the joining of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar and brings it to life through a few fictional characters. Sophia is taken on a journey that will shatter the defenses of the lighthouse and her heart. Higley uses lots of metaphors to powerful effect throughout the book in describing Sophia's refusal to love others. This book really has everything, action, suspense, romance, mystery, and history that together make a potent mix. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

Thank you to B&H Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

I'm starting another book contest this week, in addition to the one I started yesterday and the one above in the 12 Pearls of Christmas. I'm giving away a copy of 40 Loaves by C.D. Baker. 40 Loaves is the perfect devotional for those with little time but want to deepen their faith. If you are interested in winning a copy of this book, send me an email before 10 pm on Thursday, Dec. 17th. To enter the Pearls contest, leave a comment here saying so. To enter yesterday's contest, read that day's post and leave a comment there before 10 pm on Saturday, Dec. 19th. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

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