Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love baking cookies, putting up the Christmas tree, shopping for friends, having fun with family, and the joy that comes along with Christmas. I look forward to it every year. My family traditions are probably my favorite part of the season. My family has some very fun traditions. We celebrate with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my cousins. We always have a lot of fun watching my 2-year-old cousin, Levi, excitedly open his presents.

My favorite tradition is what my parents, siblings, and I do on Christmas Eve. We always stay at home and eat finger foods. We either play games or watch movies, or sometimes even both. We eat cheese and crackers, trail bologna, pretzels, chips–pretty much any finger food you can imagine. My mom usually gets sparkling grape juice for us to drink. Even though Christmas Eve is my parent’s anniversary, they always spend it with their kids. They have their anniversary dinner the night before and have fun with their kids on their anniversary. They give their time to us.

My second favorite tradition is that we always have French toast or pancakes on Christmas morning. We have orange juice, cranberry juice, and grape juice. My dad always makes it and my sister usually helps. It’s always delicious. After we eat, we clean up, and then go and open our presents.

I am very grateful that my family gives time to spend with each other. We all have such busy lives that we don’t get to be together as a family all that often. I am very thankful that we can spend Christmas and Christmas Eve together. I am looking forward to Christmas this year. I hope that everyone has a good Christmas and has fun with their families and friends. Take the time this year to reflect on and appreciate the special traditions you have with your family.

By Lizzy Morgan

Giving Season

The holiday season is upon us. Let the decorating, baking, list making, shopping, wrapping, hiding, cooking, eating, and singing begin! Sounds like fun, right? But, why do we do it? Because everyone does it? Because we have always done it? Because we like to receive gifts? The answer is probably yes to all three. But the best reason is because we like to give!

The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image. Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .” This means that each one of us has some part of God’s characteristics. One of those characteristics is giving. Our God is a giving God. James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” This is why we like to give––because God created us with giving hearts.

Now, just because we have giving hearts does not mean we always practice giving. It means that when we do give (in the right way) it makes us happy in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The Greek word used here for “cheerful” means “hilarious.” Have you ever given a gift that made you feel “hilarious”? If not, you are missing a great experience.

When we think of giving, we usually think of putting money in the contribution plate at church, or giving a gift to a friend or family member. This kind of giving is good and makes us happy. But the Bible shows us examples of several different kinds of giving. Let’s look at some of them and see if we can get an idea of how we can be more giving in our lives.

Matthew 25:35-40: “For I [Jesus] was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me . . . And the King [Jesus] shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’” Why not organize a “food basket” party for you and your friends? How about going through your closet and taking some of your clothes that don’t fit anymore to a thrift store? Are there any new kids at school who need a friend? You don’t have to be best friends with people just because they are new, but at least make the effort to find out if you have any common interests, and to make them feel welcomed. Don’t forget the elderly. They are always appreciative of a visit, even if it’s just a short one.

Luke 10:35: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever, thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’” Being a “Good Samaritan” is something Jesus taught, but in today’s world it can be dangerous. Here are some “safe” ways you can help someone in trouble: 1) Call for help. 2) Take a First Aid, Rescue or CPR class 3) Carry a First Aid kit in your car––if you can’t use it, someone else at the scene of an accident may be able to. 4) Give blood (if you’re over 18). 5) Donate your hair to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.

Luke 21:1: “And he [Jesus] looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, ‘Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury [poverty] hath cast in all the living that she had.’” The widow who gave two mites was blessed more than the rich who gave more, because she gave all she had, and the rich only gave a tiny portion of their wealth. The widow’s giving was a true sacrifice, as was David’s in 2 Samuel 24:24. Jesus is trying to teach us that we don’t have to give a large amount to the church to be pleasing to God or to receive the blessings that come from giving. This widow knew the truth about giving––that God will provide for a cheerful giver in a way that will eventually allow them to give more! As you grow and enter into the working world, make giving to the church first on your list of priorities. You will never regret it.

Dear God,
Help us to look for ways that we can be more giving and extend the giving season to include the whole year. Give us the selfless spirit that puts others’ needs ahead of our own. Let us discover the joy of being a cheerful giver. Increase our faith in your promise to take care of all our needs if we are obedient to your Word.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

By Cindy Morgan

Family Ties

I have been very blessed throughout my life. I have a mother who loves me and siblings who I actually enjoy being around. I was born in a country where I have freedom to attend church and share my beliefs. I have no fear of being beaten because I’m a woman, and I have the opportunity to receive a good education. There is so much in my life that I don’t deserve and I try to spend every day being continually thankful for it.

I have also had my fair share of tragedy and suffering in my lifetime. My family has been hurt by someone we should have been able to trust, and some bad decisions have been made as the result. This brings me to the point of this article. Even though we are Christians, we are not guaranteed a perfect, easy life, but what we are guaranteed is the constant presence and love of God (Matt. 5:45).

When tragedy struck my family, my grandparents gave me a small foot-shaped keychain with words that I could never forget. It is a famous poem that many people have heard and it is written in many different versions, but the one I have always known goes something like this, “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you we would walk side by side through life. But when I needed you most I only saw one set of footprints in the sand.’ The Lord replied, ‘I love you and I would never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints in the sand, it was then that I carried you.’” (Mary Stevenson, 1984)

These few sentences have stayed with me since the young age of six and have often reminded me where to turn. God is there whenever we need Him and gives us exactly what we need when it’s needed––just like He did when He put it on my grandparents’ hearts to buy me that keychain (Phil. 4:6-7). Because God knew that I would need it in my life and that it would help me press on through the hard stuff.

There have been times when I foolishly chose to pull away from God rather than strive to be closer and I always ended up regretting it (Romans 12:12).  So as a Christian I would have to say that when things are not going the way you have planned in your mind just remember God will take care of you and something good can come from it if you choose to let it (James 1:2-4).

Don’t be afraid to be confused or angry about the sad things that happen in your life, but do always remember that God doesn’t want you to be hurt or upset and He will help you get through it. God never leaves us, and when we work diligently at our relationship with Him we can become exactly what He designed us to be!

Shelby Garrett

Shelby Garrett

A Heart of Thanksgiving

My grandmother was very dear to my heart. She was a wonderful Christian woman who lived her life to the fullest as God would want her to live. She wasn’t a rich woman as the world terms riches, but she was rich indeed. She found her reward or riches in her family and friends.

Mam-ma, as we grandchildren called her, would take turns with her sister inviting the preacher and his family over on Sunday afternoons to eat dinner with her, Pap-pa, and their four children. She was actually very poor but she still found ways to be hospitable to others.

Mam-ma once told me that even though she was poor, she always felt that what she had was good enough. She even said that she could have the president of the United States over for dinner and she would not be embarrassed by her meager home or unmatched dishes. Mam-ma was a truly thankful woman. She knew what mattered most in life.

When I was a young woman, raising my four children with a limited income, she taught me the importance of being thankful and content in all areas of my life. Mam-ma knew the true meaning of Philippians 4:11: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

Her words of wisdom have held strong in my heart throughout all these years. One of her favorite sayings was, “half a loaf is better than none.” What she meant was to be thankful for what you have because your situation could be a lot worse.

One time while my children were very small, their father could not work due to an illness. We had no income at that time because I chose to stay at home to raise my children. Thanksgiving was just days away and we had little money for food, much less for a Thanksgiving meal.

Pride kept me from telling anyone that we didn’t have much food in the house. Somehow, a local church found out and donated four brown grocery bags full of food for our Thanksgiving dinner! As the two people delivered the groceries and set the bags down inside my front door, I cried and said a silent prayer thanking God for such kind and generous people.

Until you’re in a desperate situation like we were, it is difficult to understand the impact of the special kindness and love shown from other people. It touched my heart deeply and I continuously thanked God for looking out for us. How many times do we worry about things that God is already taking care of for us?

Matthew 6:25-34 is a great passage to read about God providing for us. Verses 31-34 say, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t have as much as other people, please don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. If you don’t wear a particular label on your clothes, don’t let it bother you because that is not what is most important in this life. Instead, be thankful for what you do have and for your many blessings. We need to be thankful for our families and friends, and most especially to our Heavenly Father for sacrificing His son to die for our sins so that we can someday have a home in Heaven. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

My grandmother passed away fourteen years ago, but her words of encouragement and thanksgiving have never left my heart. I am thankful for her and her guidance and for her love. She was a blessing to every life she touched.

Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Let us pray:

Dear God,
Thank You for being so kind and loving. Thank You for sending your Son to die on the cross so that we can live with You in heaven someday. Thank You for providing all of our needs and help us to fully trust in You so that we do not worry about the insignificant things in this life, but instead keep our focus on You and Your promises.

In Jesus’ name,

By: Carol Gartman

Getting Close

The first time I saw the sand and the ocean as far as my eyes could see, is when I realized that I saw Him. I stood on the beach with the sand between my toes and the water washing over them and I felt Him. Still to this day, I will never forget how close I feel to God when I am at the ocean. All of us have a place where we feel closest to Him. When I was twenty, I left home for a period of time and moved to the North Carolina coast. Any time I needed to feel close to God, I went to the beach. I usually went late in the evenings when others had gone home. I knew I could pray wherever I was and He would hear me, but feeling Him is what gave me comfort. When I had to leave North Carolina and move back to Kentucky I took one last drive to the beach. Alone, late at night, I sat there with the water rushing around me and cried. I had never felt as close to God as I did when I was on a beach. What was I going to do now?

I moved back home and I immediately missed that closeness. I prayed and prayed. And although that can bring some comfort, for me I needed to feel as though He heard me. One fall day I went for a drive alone. The leaves had changed colors and seeing all the colorful trees on the mountainside simply amazed me. I pulled over and decided to take a walk up an old path. I was half way up the path when I felt Him. I looked down and there were leaves everywhere. The cool autumn air, the birds chirping––I knew He was telling me something.

I didn’t need the ocean to feel Him. Sometimes I don’t even need to pray to feel close to Him. I simply need to take the time to appreciate the marvelous works He created. The snow in the winter, the rain and flowers in the spring are all signs He gives us that He is alive. In some form, everyday, I look for Him. I always make it a point to appreciate the blessing He gives me of life so that I can enjoy His works.

By Sarah J. Ancheta

Virtuous Friend Choices

What do you look for in a friend? I’m sure most of us would say that humor, kindness, and common interests are among the top characteristics on our list. I’m also sure most of us believe that our friends are good people who want to do what is right. However, when you take a closer look, how many of your friends could be described as genuine, virtuous, and full of integrity?

A little over a year ago, I met a group of girls who are among the most genuine young women I have ever known. These women really strive to be virtuous. They know that includes how they dress, how they talk, and what they watch and read. I know gossip can be fun at times, and almost instinctive, to women. But these women have their minds set on refusing to do that. There are many fun, cute clothes out there, and we tend to argue that it’s okay to look nice in front of guys. My friends don’t buy into it, and they choose to always dress modestly. They also don’t watch or read immoral things because they are well aware that we are to set our minds on what is good and pure (Phil. 4:8).

If we truly want to be virtuous, and to encourage others to do the same, then we should seek out friends who challenge us to be virtuous as well. Does this mean that you need to get rid of all your friends who gossip and watch bad movies? Not necessarily, because you can be an example to them. But it does mean that you should start making an effort not to participate in the gossip and movies with them. I’ve noticed that since I’ve spent time with these upright women, I am much more convicted not to gossip when I’m with my other friends. I also make a conscious decision not to dress in ways that might tempt men. What good is there from tempting someone to sin? “It is better not to … do anything else that will cause your brother to fall” (Romans 14:20–22). These women challenge me to be a better Christian. When developing relationships with women who truly strive to be virtuous, over time, sin becomes less comfortable and much more noticeable. And so, I challenge you to form relationships with girls who will encourage you with their virtuosity.

By Lisa Grimenstein

Loving Ladies

I became pregnant shortly after I was married, and while my husband and I made enough money to live, we didn’t make enough to support ourselves and a child. He had just joined another person as a business owner, and I became their secretary. Our lack of money and baby necessities caused us to worry throughout my entire pregnancy. To top things off, about six weeks before the baby was due, we discovered several dishonest things my husband’s partner had been doing, and we both immediately packed our things and left, which put us both out of a job.

We were about to have a baby, we did not have jobs, and we didn’t have any baby items except a few outfits, a green blanket, and some rubber duckies that had been given to us by family members. We were worried sick. And then …

The baby shower at my church had been planned for months, and it just happened to fall about two weeks after we left our business. I walked into that baby shower with practically nothing, and I was astonished at the amount of gifts that were piled on the tables, overflowing to beneath the tables, beside the tables, and in front of the tables. The room was packed with women, and every seat was taken. My mother was beside me and said something along the lines of, “Oh, wow, Davonne, I think you’re being taken care of.” That day I received a bassinet, crib, car seat, stroller, sleepers, diapers, bath stuff, changing table, dresser, and everything else I could possibly need for a newborn. Word had gotten around about our business, and instead of getting the normal cutesy outfits people tend to give as baby shower gifts, the women had gone in together to give us larger items we weren’t able to afford. I walked into that shower with nothing, and left with everything.

As with this instance, the women at my church pull together in time of need, no matter who the person is, and they give what needs to be given. But most of all, they give what we all need most––a glimpse of the love of Christ in human form. Thank you, God, for women like these, who truly make the world a better place. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

– Davonne Parks

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 emphasis added).

Until just a few months ago, I could count the number of times I had read my Bible in the past several years on one hand. Sure, I had read it when I needed to look something up or when I was doing a group Bible study. But even then, I would cram that week-long Bible study lesson into the couple days before our meeting. The saddest thing is that if someone had asked me what the most important book in the world is, I would have said, without having to think for a second, the Bible. So why was I spending so little time reading something I had such easy access to? “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (I Corinthians 2:12).

School has started and most of us are already covered in assignments and activities. We know that they are important and that they have to be done. Studying God’s Word is so much more important for our lives, but it often doesn’t get done. Why? Because no one is forcing us to do it. How could I leave the most important book in the world on the shelf to collect dust? Or worse yet, not even remember where I left it.

And that’s when I was challenged. The woman in my Wednesday night ladies’ class didn’t even know she was challenging me. She simply shared that, with the exception of a few times, she had read her Bible daily for almost 20 years. She said that she started doing it when she had little children. She would read first thing in the morning before they woke up. She said that with all the life going on the rest of the day, it was so important to her to give God the very first part of her day. Having two little boys of my own, I was amazed at how she could find the time. But I was also convicted that I needed to make that time for myself and God. Not because anyone was forcing me or checking up on me, but because I needed it in my life. How could I not desire to spend time with my Creator and Savior?! Why would I pass up that opportunity? So that I could do something as non-eternal as watching HGTV or reading a book?

And so, I made a commitment that I would start first thing in the morning the next day. And I did. I will admit, it definitely took some discipline at first. Not only would I have to get up a little earlier, but I’d have to go to bed a little earlier so that my mind would be fresh the next morning. I know that some of you are not morning people, and that you’d like to read your Bible at night. Although I think that spending time in God’s Word is important regardless the time of day, there is something so wonderful about being with Him at the beginning of my day. And somehow, if I don’t spend the first part of my day with Him, the day is suddenly gone and I’m too tired to focus on any time with Him.

Like I said, it takes discipline. But I knew that if I disciplined myself to do it, it would become a desire. And it is. I love spending time with God and His Word. I know that it is one of the most important things I can do. And so I challenge you to discipline yourself to study the Bible––you will soon desire it! Even spending just 15 minutes a day can be so refreshing and rewarding. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). It should be easy enough to make that much time in our schedules. It is a sad thing if we can’t even make 15 minutes to spend with God in the 24-hour day that God Himself created.

Look at your schedule, re-prioritize your activities if need be, and make Bible study a discipline that you will soon desire!

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long….I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (Psalm 119:97104)

“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:16 emphasis added).

By Lisa Grimenstein

Kudos to the Staff

This column is for readers to write about something good someone has done for them, whether it’s God’s blessings or another person’s. I want to tell you about what the Pierce My Heart volunteer staff has done. Volunteers on staff range from fifteen to eighty years old, and include men and women (but mainly women). The women are students, wives, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, active church members, and workers in and out of their homes. The men are husbands, fathers, preachers, and teachers who work long hours at their jobs. This volunteer staff, above everything else, loves God and has come together with one united goal––to spread the Word of God to as many people as possible, with direct efforts to reach young women across the nation, and someday, the world.

These people are not paid; they take the time out of their schedules for free to create and maintain the magazine. Nothing you see on this website is there by accident; everyone has worked so hard to get the magazine to where it is now, and people continue to work to improve the magazine. Pierce My Heart has been a labor of love from the volunteers who long to share Christ’s love with others in order to help spread the gospel to all the earth (Mark 16:15).

Thank you, volunteers at Pierce My Heart! The magazine wouldn’t exist at this level without each of you! Keep up the great work, continue to live faithfully, and when the end comes you will be greatly rewarded (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

– Davonne Parks

Will They Know?

School has begun. You might be starting college, high school, or middle school. You will be meeting new people and making new friends. Will they know you are a Christian? Will they know by your example, by the words you speak, and by your character?

According to, character is “the sum of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person…” Examples of these traits are “moral or ethical quality, honesty, courage, integrity, favorable reputation, a good name and respect from others.”

Those qualities sound exactly like how God wants us to be and to live, as in Titus 2:7-8: “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Doesn’t that sound like moral or ethical quality, honesty, courage, integrity, good reputation, a good name, and respect from others? Girls, if you behave in such a way that no one can say anything bad about you, the person who might tell a lie about you can only be “put to shame,” as God tells us. Because you are living the life God commands you to live, they will know that you did not deserve the unkindness they spoke of you.

Sometimes it is difficult to be the only person, or one of the few, who won’t go along with your friends’ wrongdoings. First Peter 4:16 says, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this manner.” Have you considered that others might feel as you do, but just don’t have the courage that you have to stand up for what is right? Perhaps they need you to lead the way.

I’m not talking about being “weird” with your convictions. You don’t need to shout “Praise the Lord!” or “beat people over the head,” so to speak, with your beliefs. But you can share God by your example and having the character traits that God would be proud of. Matthew 6:5 says, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. . . .” They were praying to be noticed, yet they were not living as God told them to live. They were hypocritical. They wanted people to think they were living righteously, when indeed the only thing that made people think they were godly, is that they were praying so loudly that people noticed them. On the outside, the hypocrites looked like “perfect Christians” but in the inside, their hearts were prideful and sinful. Their private lives were not godly at all.

We are to be the “light of the world,” as God tell us in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” We will accomplish that by having the character within us that God desires. Colossians 3:12–17 says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts. . . .”

To love like God loves and to let His peace rule in our hearts means that God must be on our minds constantly. He can’t be there only part of the time, because that is when we become spiritually weak, and Satan is ready and waiting to fill up the empty space in our hearts and lives where God should be. We should instead choose to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts so there is no room for Satan’s temptation. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

We begin to sin more when we stop meditating on God regularly. Have you ever noticed that it is hard to pray when you are intentionally sinning? God and sin cannot live in the same place. We are usually ashamed or embarrassed to approach God when we know we are sinning. Doesn’t Satan make sin so appealing that we don’t always want to stop the sin?

When our hearts are fully repentant of our wrongdoing, then we can humbly bow before our Father in Heaven with a sincere and remorseful heart. Keep God close to your heart and let Him be constantly alive within you so that there is no room for Satan to dwell there!

Pray to God when you are weak. If you have a good friend whom you trust, confess your weakness to her and ask her to pray with you. Galations 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” There is power in prayer. Find friends who want you to be in Heaven someday, instead of friends who will tempt you to sin.

Be an example to others so that by your character you can help lead them to Christ. We will be held accountable someday for everything we do and say, according to Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds” (emphasis added). So strive diligently to be an example of good deeds and to be pure in doctrine. Let whatever you say be beyond reproach so that no one can say anything bad about you. Live your life so there is no doubt about who, and whose, you are, and they will know.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please help me to have the strength and the courage to stand up for You and for what is right. Please forgive me when I sin. Help me to always fill my heart and life with You, Lord, so that there’s no room for Satan to enter my life. Help me to live my life so that others know I am a Christian. Help me to be the example You want me to be. Thank You for Jesus and for Your love and forgiveness.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

By: Carol Gartman