Beyond the Manger

Mary Joseph Jesus RS

How tiny and helpless
how wonderfully human,
yet so mysteriously divine,
was the Baby born to Mary.

How great the promises
of who He was,
of why He had come,
of what He would do.

But did Mary know,
did Mary see,
beyond the manger—
to the Cross?

Did she know
that He would bear
our grief and sorrow,
be wounded and bruised
for our sins?

Did she know
He would be chastised
that we might have peace,
and lashed
that we might be healed?

This Christmas
will we be drawn
just to the manger
or also to the Cross?

manger cross

The Gift of Children

All pics from camera 153

Eagerly we awaited
our first grandbaby’s birth.
We praised God
as we held her in our arms
less than an hour after she arrived.
So tiny, so helpless, so dependent -
and so immediately loved.

How difficult it must have been
for Joseph and Mary’s parents
to wait several years
to hold Jesus in their arms
and not to even know
if Joseph and Mary
and their grandchild were safe.

Today countless little ones
will never be held in the arms
of their grandparents.
Separated by the ravages of war,
they will struggle to survive
in refugee camps or on the streets
or as child slaves, prostitutes, or soldiers.

 How can we best celebrate Jesus’ birth?
By remembering how He held children
in His arms and blessed them.
By not forgetting the plight
of children in crisis around the world,
and by giving sacrificially
even as He gave Himself for us all.


How Long?

Wise men

How Long?

Along with many other schools near me,
the school my grandkids attend
was on lockdown today
as police searched for a killer.
We locked our doors
and prayed he would be found
before more lives were lost.
Far away in a school in Pakistan
terrorists killed 135 children.
In Yemen a car bomb
killed 20 children on a school bus.

Oh Father, how long
before there is an end
to this madness?
How long before
the Prince of Peace comes to reign?

Thank You for the star
that lit the way to the cold, damp cave
where Your Son entered our world
two thousand years ago.
Thank You for Your promise
that “His life is the light that shines
through the darkness—
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
Help me to be Your lightbearer—
to write and to live
Your answer.

John 1:5; Philippians 2:15-16; Habakkuk 2:2
Marlene Bagnull – Christmas 2014


Christmas cross
Thanksgiving has ushered in
the Christmas season.
I am sobered
not so much by the calories
I have consumed
or the prices in the mall
(although both are too high),
as by the contrasts I see.

There is plenty and want,
joy and grief,
love and hatred,
hope and despair,
the real and the artificial.

Father, help me to see You
and to share Your love.
Move me to give
as Your Son gave
when He willingly went
from the manger to the cross.

Let there be a difference in me
that is visible and credible–
that points others to Jesus Christ,
Our Savior and only hope.


thanksgiving (1)

Come All Christians

Marlene Bagnull
To the tune “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

Come all Christians join in song
Praise our God the whole day long
Not just on Thanksgiving eve
But throughout eternity
Thank You God for all You’ve done
For Your Spirit and Your Son
And Your Word that points the way
To bear fruit for You each day

Thank You for this land we love
For Your watchcare from above
For  countless ways that You have blessed
Giv’n Your strength when we are stressed
Turn our nation back to You
Change our hearts, our faith renew
Help us, Lord, to once again
Stand for Truth lost souls to win

Connecting the Dots

Rhyner Adoption Book


Connecting the Dots
From Wannabe to Published Author

by Christine Rhyner

How many of us remember as children taking our yellow wooden pencils to paper and playing “Connect the Dots?”

We began with a single line, then another that might take us in a different direction, then a third that could be quite long, and a fourth, just a tiny inch. We would zig-zag our way across the page until we found ourselves staring at a kite or a butterfly and think, “Cool.”

I have discovered that a walk with the Lord is much like this. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 it is written, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Though we cannot see the bigger picture God does when we set out on a journey, we must take that first step of faith, that first pencil stroke to move along a path that we believe will lead us to something “cool.”

In print & ebook

In print and ebook

I never realized that finding a blurb about the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in a trade magazine would lead me to becoming a published author. That ad led me to Founder, Marlene Bagnull’s website where I found “Write His Answer.” What a treasure! While publishing magazine and website articles as a fairly new Christian I had struggled to understand the passion God had placed within me to write, how to approach this calling on my life and how to move forward in my desire to do so for Him and from Him. I immediately bought the book and found just what I needed—a Bible study for Christian writers. I never knew such a resource existed!

Right away I registered for the next GPCWC. There I found the blessing of hundreds of others just like me, with the same focus, passion and calling–to connect with and learn from. I had never felt such a sense of belonging, acceptance and encouragement. I was at home!

I knew that I wanted to write a book sharing my testimony about my
God who had determined to make me a mother through international Adoptedadoption. It was during perhaps the third summer I attended the conference that God decided the timing for such a book was right. I had learned a lot, grown as a writer and explored various ways of communicating my story. Then, it just happened. While on the ride home back to NY, my entire book outline just poured out of me onto paper while my husband drove. I saw the dots starting to connect!

After returning home, I set to work sharpening my book’s theme and message. As I wrote chapters I also worked on a proposal. After I sent off this proposal to an editor who had taught at the conference and graciously offered to review it for me (an amazing benefit of the GPCWC in that professionals will actually offer to follow up with you on projects), it was clear that my proposal was a mess. But I had already purchased W. Terry Whalin’s “Book Proposals That Sell” at the conference. Why wasn’t I using it?

After carefully following Terry’s direction and advice, my pencil took a detour and I re-wrote a proposal that garnered three positive responses and a contract within a few months!

But the picture, as any author will tell you, wasn’t quite complete. I now needed an editor to help me polish my first manuscript submission to a publisher. Back to Marlene’s website I went. What I thought was a random pick of an editor to hire was actually God’s way of connecting another dot. This editor was a staff member of my publisher’s, able to give me insight into their expectations and navigate my way through the process! Additionally, she is a godly, professional, faithful woman, always quick to respond to my many questions and concerns.

After a few more months of hard work and re-writes the dots were finally connected! In fact, I saw a butterfly. One that had finally emerged from its long night captive in a cocoon, now beautiful and free to fly forth with a message of a mighty God’s blessing, grace and forgiveness before and after an adoption journey.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 goes on to say, I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.”

As authors, we need that sense of purpose God has intended for our work. We can delight in it if we remember that God has called us to do it, that the fruit of our labor is a gift from Him and that this is how we serve Him. Understanding and focusing our purpose and calling is what Marlene brings to authors with “Write His Answer” and her tireless efforts at running the GPCWC for decades. The dedicated, godly and professional people I’ve mentioned above are the kind she offers year after year for our benefit and instruction.

Were it not for a blurb in a writing magazine for the GPCWC I may not have seen How much did you pay for her? Forgiving the Words That Hurt Adoptive Families come to fruition.

How is God connecting your dots on your journey?

For more about my book, view my trailer at:


Available now through www.clcpublications.com, www.amazon.com, www.christianbookdistributors.com and soon to be available in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Interested in adoption? Check out my website at www.christinerhyner.com, or drop by my Facebook author page at www.Facebook.com/ChristineRhynerauthor

I’m back!

I’m back! Well, I’ve not really been gone although it feels that way. For the past month I’ve spent more time in my garden than in my office except for the week when I had to work on our 2013 taxes. PTL I got them done several hours before the October 15 deadline.

It’s been a good month of catching up on stuff I can’t do during conference season. I still have more catching up to do (will any of us ever really be caught up?), but it’s time to get to work planning next year’s conferences. There’s a book to be written that Father is placing on my heart, and there is the ongoing need to prayerfully address the issues and to “write His answer.”

For now, let me encourage you to do several things.

  • Go to the polls tomorrow having studied where the candidates stand on the issues. A helpful non-partisan tool is  http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm. Join me in praying for the election of godly men and women.


  • With Christmas fast-approaching (it’s only 7-1/2 weeks away!) ask Father how you can keep Christ in Christmas through His gift of words. Perhaps He will lead you to post Scriptures on Facebook throughout Advent or to do as my friend, Cindy Watkins, is doing in November with a daily “thank You” post. Or perhaps Father will lead you to compile a booklet of poems and short stories as a gift for loved ones. And do be aware of what’s happening in the world around you especially as it pertains to man’s attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Ask Father for wise words to present biblical truth.

God bless you as you seek to write and to live His answer.


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