ARE THEY HERE YET?

"They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was."— Matthew 2:9

This week, like many of you, we'll finally arrive at the home of family and friends to celebrate Christmas. Do you have "going home" traditions? We do too. One tradition my parents actually started during my college years was hanging a "Welcome Home, Jimmy!" sign at the house. When I got married, they added "& Loretta", and we've seen that banner for 16 years now. And no matter how quick our trip might be, that sign is waiting. It's seen its share of attics, but it brings Mom and Dad a lot of joy to pull that out of storage. That sign symbolizes Christmas, and that their children are almost home.

Beyond a doubt right now, celebration plans are almost ready in homes such as yours and of those you love. All the decorations have been hung, everyone's favorite dishes are being prepared and front room curtains are being impatiently pulled back to see if "they're here yet."

You know, I've often wondered if the star in the east was as much God's way to honor His son, as it was our way to find Him. Even though Jesus' time on earth was short, God knew how He'd be rejected, and of the cross that awaited him. So perhaps it was God's way to say, "I love you, Son" and in doing so said to us, "Here He is".

He loves us that much. And if we look forward to seeing loved ones, how much more does He? Because you see, someday God will send for us. And I like to think that after spreading the table for the great celebration and hanging the welcome-home banner across the door, the angels will pull back the curtain, peeking to see...are they here yet?

--J.P.

PRAYFIT RECIPE OF THE WEEK: ROAD TRIP SNACK: TURKEY & CHEDDAR PANINI

There's something about the crunch of a perfectly toasted panini that's hard to resist. But oftentimes, it ends up on the "do not eat" list for those of us trying to lean up or lose a few pounds. This recipe, however, is a healthier, protein-packed alternative that will serve you well, whether you're looking to build muscle, get lean or just recover from a tough workout.

Turkey & Cheddar Panini

2 slices Ezekiel Bread 2 tsp Dijon mustard 4 oz deli turkey 2 slices tomato ¼ cup baby spinach leaves 1 slice low fat cheddar cheese 1 tsp canola oil

>> Spread each slice of bread with mustard and assemble panini by layering turkey, tomato, spinach and cheese between slices of bread. Heat canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add panini and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, pressing down gently with a spatula. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

Calories: 390 | Protein: 30 grams | Carbohydrates: 38 grams | Fat: 12 grams