March 15, 2002... Fayetteville, NC is socked in with thick, wet fog. And several thousand of us are waiting in the Crown Coliseum for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment. The air is more electric than any I think I've ever felt and the expectation is high. The person we've been waiting for has been delayed for more than an hour because fog has socked in the airport, but nobody's complaining. We'll wait and wait gladly, because the payoff will be worth it.

And then... a man in a dark suit steps onto the stage carrying what looks like a dinner plate. The entire arena goes silent. He stops, solemnly affixes the seal to the podium, steps back, and leaves.

The President of the United States is in the building.

Those assembled go wild... and then are faced with another wait as other special guests are introduced.

And then... a voice. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States" and the first chords of "Hail to the Chief." There he is, stepping across the stage to applause and cheers and waves and shouts. The noise dies down, he begins to speak, and the crowd--largely soldiers--begins to scream again. It's amazing, incredible to us all... the President is before us. The highest authority in the land stands feet away from us, sharing the air in the room.

I thought about that this morning, because I was thinking about Jesus' return. On March 15, 2002, I couldn't quite comprehend that I was in the same room as a man I'd seen on TV so many times, who I truly admired, the very President of my country.

What will it be like on the day when the sky splits and the very King of Kings appears? Oh, can you imagine the cheers on that day, when the King of Glory is seen face to face, sharing our air, the highest authority ever will finally be "in the building"?

Am I waiting in holy expectation for that moment? Wondering when the time will come, on the edge of my seat, feeling the delay, but oh so ready for him to appear? When the fog rolls in and it seems like He's never going to come, do I still strain to see him?

I cannot wait for my King to take the stage, y'all. This morning, I wanted to jump up and down thinking about it. How about you?

The women's Bible study at my church doesn't meet in December, so a group of us has joined an online Bible study on Ann Spangler's Immanuel. (Excellent, if you haven't done it.) Today she focused on Luke's retelling of Jesus' birth, and it got me thinking.

We read that story, but do we ever stop to picture it? We're so used to sweet nativity scenes with quiet animals and fresh hay in a newly-made manger. But think about it... this was a scared teenager, far from home, with a new husband (whom it's possible she didn't know very well), and she is in labor. Can you imagine their desperation when there was nowhere to stay? Did they stop in front of that smelly, nasty animal barn and look at it, then glance around praying for somewhere else? Only there was literally nowhere else? How panicked was Mary? Did she long for her mother? Her cousin Elizabeth?

The Bible doesn't mention another woman around. Was it Joseph who clumsily delivered that amazing baby, terrified of breaking the tiny Messiah? (I'd have been scared of that!) I'm sure the cloths were not fine, freshly-bleached linen and that the manger was far from antiseptic. How did the animals feel about having their food encroached upon? How many times did Joseph have to shoo away curious creatures who might nip at the infant?

Think about it. And then ask yourself how the picture in your mind lines up with what was probably the reality of the Son of God's birth. He gave up a throne in heaven, you know, and abundant everything. To be laid in a filthy stable.

This just in! Fresh from American Christian Fiction Writers, it's the list of new releases for December. Just in time for Christmas. May you find much that piques your interest!

1. A Bouquet for Iris, by Diane Ashley & Aaron McCarver from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Iris Landon travels to Daisy, Tennessee, to care for two Cherokee children and finds romance and danger while aiding one family in the struggle to keep their land.

2. A Lady Like Sarah, Rocky Creek Romance, by Margaret Brownley from Thomas Nelson. He's a preacher. She's an outlaw. Both are in need of a miracle.

3. ANGEL WITH A BACKHOE, by Deb Kinnard from Desert
Breeze Publishing. A small-town widower and a spunky suburban transplant match wits over a church construction project, finding true love can mix with blueprints and concrete footings.

4. Child Finder: Resurrection series: Child Finder Trilogy, 2nd book, by Mike Angley from Total Recall Publications, Inc. Child Finder: Resurrection…the highly-anticipated sequel to the award-winning debut novel, Child Finder, which Library Journal placed on its 2009 Summer Reads list for Christian fiction!

5. Christmas Peril, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Christmas themed, romantic suspense stories.

6. Cup of Joe, by Teri Wilson from White Rose Publishing. A grieving oman resists the cups of comfort offered by the shy, but handsome, owner of the neighborhood coffee shop.

7. Field of Danger, by Ramona Richards from Love Inspired Suspense. When April Presley can’t remember details of the murder she witnessed, deputy Daniel Rivers must help her recall the event and protect her from the killer determined to silence her.

8. Her Patchwork Family series: The Gabriel Sisters, by Lyn Cote from Love Inspired. In spite of opposition from the rich and influential, can Felicity Gabriel establish a home for children orphaned by the Civil War and heal two wounded hearts?

9. Patterns and Progress series: Michigan historical, book 3, by Amber Stockton from Barbour Publishing. A farmer's daughter would rather turn back the hands of time than accept the fact that advancement in technology could be in God's plan.

10. The Sheriff's Surrender series: #1 of The Ladies' Shooting Club Series, by Susan Page Davis from Barbour Publishing. The men of Fergus aren’t keeping the town safe, so a group of feisty women take matters into their own hands.

11. The Glassblower series: First book in the New Jersey Historical Series, by Laurie Alice Eakes from Barbour Publishing. Colin Grassick moves from Edinburgh, Scotland to Salem county New jersey to take a position as a master glassblower. He loves his work and hopes of bringing his family to America for a better life. But his love for Meg, the daughter of the owner of the glassworks, threatens his job...and then his life.