From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!!
May the love, joy, and peace that only Jesus can give be yours today, and the whole year through!
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!!
May the love, joy, and peace that only Jesus can give be yours today, and the whole year through!
Alia writes about The Waiting and Hope of Advent.
Stacey shares help For the Days When You’re Tired of Living with a White-Knuckled Grip.
This is an older post, but a great reminder of 10 Things to NOT Do This Holiday Season.
It wasn’t until we were in New York City a couple of weeks ago that I realized everyone in the family likes bruschetta. I’d ordered it in restaurants before, but this time my husband and daughters ate it, too. Ater we got home, I made The Pioneer Woman’s Bruschetta and it was so tasty!! I’ll definitely be making it again.
The video below is from our daughters’ school Christmas concert last week. This handbell song was my favorite of the four they performed. I was sitting pretty far back, so the video’s not as clear as I would have liked. Our daughters are the third and fourth ones in, if you start with the line of girls at the first table.
Just one Christmas party left, which is our Sunday School class breakfast tomorrow morning. All of the shopping and most of the wrapping is done, so I’m looking forward to a low-key Christmas Eve day. Hope you have a wonderful pre-Christmas weekend!
If you want a picture to go along with that word, I can’t think of one that’s more appropriate than that of kids waiting for Christmas to arrive.
As a child, I remember my two younger brothers getting up VERY early on Christmas morning. At some point they’d come into my room, so excited to go downstairs and wake up my parents so we could open gifts (and eat candy from our stockings for a little pre-breakfast sugar high!)
As adults, I think we generally anticipate Christmas a little (or a lot?) less. We face more responsibilities. There are presents to buy, food to make, holiday events to attend, and Christmas parties to fit into an already busy schedule.
And while we’re never too old to get excited about gifts, Christmas becomes about a whole lot more. We treasure the joy others get when they open presents we’ve chosen just for them. Getting together and spending time with family becomes much more of a focus…though there’s still a lot of excitement about the candy and other good food!
All that to say that our anticipation level for Christmas can be fairly low at times. But in these last few days before Christmas, I hope we can slow down and really anticipate what’s to come. Let our whole focus not be the gifts or the food or the family celebrations as much as marking the significance of Christ’s birth.
I love the definition of
Thinking all the way back to the first Christmas, Joseph and Mary must have experienced incredible anticipation. Many of us can identify with anticipating a child’s birth. But what about a child that has been said to be the Messiah? One whose birth was foretold to both Joseph and Mary by angels! How exciting!!
Since long before then, though, God’s people had been waiting for a Savior. God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would
And just as our God is always faithful, so He provided His Son as that seed. The anticipation from the centuries before was brought to pass on a quiet night in Bethlehem.
In this last week before Christmas, let’s try to find a bit of the wonder and anticipation of the season. This message is for me. Me, with a few presents still to buy and wrap, a couple more parties to bake for, and a Christmas dinner to cook. Let me not get so caught up in the last minute details and preparations that I forget to marvel in the glory of the greatest gift ever given.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord….And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” ~Luke 2:10, 11, 13, 14
Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth. This was the initiation of God’s plan for my redemption, the redemption of the whole world. Thank you, God, for the gift that was perfect and that only You could give.
Last weekend we took our daughters to New York City. Since our oldest turned 18 on December 1st, and our youngest turned 16 on December 3rd, it was a “once-in-a-lifetime” type birthday trip for them.
We’d all been to New York City before, but never at Christmas time. It was nice to see the city all decked out in holiday decorations.
Our younger daughter wanted to go up in the Empire State Building at night, so we headed there after walking around Times Square on Thursday night. Beautiful views, but cold and SO windy!
On our way to Rockefeller Center Friday morning, the girls recognized this setting from several Hallmark Christmas movies.
We were headed to Rockefeller Center because the girls wanted to go ice skating there. Mission accomplished!
After ice skating (and a bit of shopping in Times Square), we walked around Bryant Park. If you’re ever in the city during the holidays, I highly recommend this. There were all types of vendors set up around the park, and there was an ice skating rink there as well. Our older daughter and I got empanadas from one of the food stands for lunch, and they were delicious! (I’m sure partly because they were piping hot and both our outsides and insides were cold!)
On Saturday, we visited Freedom Tower and went up to the One World Observatory. We’d been to the 9/11 Memorial before, but the 9/11 Museum hadn’t yet opened the last time we were in New York. Even though we spent a good deal of time there, I felt like there were still things I didn’t see. It was quite crowded, which made it difficult to navigate through some of the exhibits. That day still stands out so vividly to me, and it was very moving to be taken back in my mind to those events.
We popped into Macy’s briefly late Saturday afternoon. It was beautiful inside, but what a zoo – people everywhere! We did ride the escalators up to the eighth floor, but no shopping was happening for us there!
We also caught a couple of sh
Now on to some good posts I found recently.
Sara tells us How to Thrive When You’re in a Season of Waiting.
I know a number of families who will be spending their first Christmas without a loved one. Chara shares words of hope in Christmas Mourning.
I enjoyed Christina’s Farmhouse Plaid Christmas Tour.
And here’s a bit of advice for teenage girls from Samantha Ponder’s Instagram stories that I shared with
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Are you doing any dedicated Advent reading leading up to the Christmas season? I mentioned in a previous post that I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas this month.
Here’s what I read the other day that grabbed my attention.
“Worry is belief gone wrong. Because you don’t believe that God will get it right.”
Sit with that for a while. Doesn’t that drill right down into the root of all our worry?
When we worry, we’re basically saying, “God, I don’t trust you with the outcome of this situation.” We think that we know what’s best – and we’re not sure it’s going to work out that way. And if God doesn’t do it the way we think it should be done, then we’re convinced it will end badly.
Yes, we know in our heads Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good. And we know we should be able to trust God with whatever we’re facing. Yet our human hearts and minds seem hardwired to worry.
But, my sweet friends, we can rest in the knowledge that God will get it right.
We’ve lived long enough to know that hard times will come. And when they do, we can know that God stands ready to provide for our need. Here’s what Voskamp goes on to say.
“In the thin air of Advent, you may not even know how to say it out loud: ‘I thought it would be easier.’ And your God comes near: I will provide the way.
You may not even know who to tell: ‘I thought it would be different.’ And your God draws close: I will provide grace for the gaps.
You may not even know how to find words for it: ‘I thought I would be…more.’ And your God reaches out: I will provide me.
God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need.”
In this season of giving and receiving, there’s no greater gift than God. The original Christmas gift, a babe born in a manger, for the purpose of redeeming the world to God, is ours for the taking.
There’s nothing greater we can do than point people to that gift, to Jesus, the One who can meet their every need. No wrapped box under the tree is worth more than what Jesus gives, salvation to all who believe.
And I love that phrase “grace for the gaps.” Because sometimes it’s not an overwhelming calamity that I’m facing. It can be a relatively small struggle. But even there, His grace can fill in the cracks, meeting me right where I am.
Remember this other Romans 8 verse, number 32? It says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
We serve a great God who desires to give us every gift that will be good for us and bring glory to Him. And more of Him is always just what we need.
So it’s birthday week around here. Our oldest daughter (the middle one in the picture) turns 18 today, and our youngest will be 16 on Monday. I just don’t feel old enough to have children these ages!! You’re likely familiar with the following quote from Gretchen Rubin, but it’s so true: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Here are several good posts I found this past week.
Taryn details Quick and Easy Christmas Table Decor Ideas.
On a non-holiday note, if you like farmhouse style, you’ll enjoy Rhoda’s post highlighting Big Family Little Farmhouse.
Kate talks about what she’s learned as a mom in Seasons of Our Lives.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
I am solidly on the side of not starting Christmas preparations until Thanksgiving is over. My girls did manage to sneak in a little Christmas music on the car radio prior to Thanksgiving Day, but I did mildly protest!
Now you may be like my daughters, ready to start celebrating the Christmas season at the beginning of November, and that’s fine.
Regardless, Christmas preparations are now in full swing. This past weekend we got our live tree, decorated it, and are now asking Alexa to play us Christmas songs every morning. The wreath is on the door, and the advent calendar is hanging on the wall.
But I’m just not feeling it yet. I love the tree, and how cozy it makes our house feel. I’m happy that the stockings are hung. And I’m not in the throes of gift-buying madness or cookie-baking panic, either. I just don’t have that Christmas spirit.
We still have a while to get there, but if you’re like me, maybe one of the ways I’ve listed below will help us get our hearts ready for this Christmas season.
I just started Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story. Technically the book starts on December 1st. However, I know I’ll miss a couple of days somewhere in the month, so I started a few days early. Other activities like lighting advent candles or decorating a Jesse Tree can help get you in a Christmas frame of mind.
I shocked my girls earlier this week when I confessed that I’m not a big fan of Christmas hymns. They made me feel like I’ve been living a lie all these years, complimenting them on the Christmas piano pieces they’ve played in church or at recitals when I’m not a big fan of the songs, lol!
There are a few traditional hymns that I like, but I also really enjoy songs from Christmas cantatas that I’ve heard performed (an all-time favorite being Ten Thousand Hallelujahs. Here’s one of the songs.) The point is, find seasonal music that causes you to think about Jesus’ birth. (Christmas Grace is a new favorite of mine this year.) Add in a few fun Christmas tunes, too!
Yes, my like-to-be-organized self makes a list of who we’re buying gifts for, how much we plan to spend, and all that good stuff. But let’s go beyond that. Who can we bless this Christmas season? Is there a person you could help that can likely never return the favor? What about anonymous giving?
Whether we bake cookies, deliver a meal, or find a great deal on a gift we know someone will love, let’s get the focus off of ourselves. We truly receive a bigger blessing when we give rather than when we’re on the receiving end.
Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the kids or by yourself. Maybe a Hallmark Christmas movie will inspire you. As a family, listen to a Christmas-related audiobook or read one aloud yourself.
I like The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This Family Read-Aloud Christmas Treasury looks good, as does Home for Christmas: Stories for Old and Young. (I think Nikki recommended the second one.)
Go back to Luke 1 and read the history of Elisabeth and Mary. Go over to Matthew 1 to read about Joseph, and Matthew 2 for the story of the wise men. Meditate on the people and events that surrounded the birth of baby Jesus.
Want help getting started? Jesus came to earth to be born as a baby because of God’s great love for us. Because Jesus came to earth and submitted to God’s plan, our sins can be forgiven. You get the idea.
Once you have your list finished, read through it once a day.
Go to a play, a musical, a tree lighting, a parade, a big Christmas lights display, or a concert. There are likely all kinds of community events in your area centered around Christmas. See if the Christmas spirit is contagious!
The Christmas season is just getting underway, and I hope you’ll enjoy these next few weeks as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
[If you have children, check out these 5 Christmas Bible Verses to Teach Your Children and 10 Gifts from Jesus to Unwrap This Year: An Object Lesson for Our Children.]
Christin tells us The Best Way to Love Your Husband.
If you’re planning family photos any time soon, check out these tips from Corina in What to Wear for Family Photos.
Susan shares 7 Important Things I’ve Learned About Parenting Over 46 Years. Number seven is one that I often need to remember!
Tracy tells us How a Professional Organizer Approaches the Holidays.
So I read A LOT of books this month. Yay for a weeklong vacation with plenty of time in the cabin!
Here were my three non-fiction reads.
Remember God by Annie F. Downs was a really good, quick read. Annie is very vulnerable in this book as she shares some tender parts of her story. It was an encouragement to me to continue to trust God whether or not my life is turning out as I thought it would.
Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush was another memoir on my list this month. I enjoyed reading about some of the “behind-the-scenes” moments, especially related to 9/11, and also their memories of special times with their dad.
Here are the four fiction books I read this month.
I had high hopes for Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis by Patti Callahan due to lots of positive reviews I’d heard about the book. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Since this was a fiction book, it did inspire me to do some research into Joy Davidman and her relationship with C.S. Lewis.
I enjoyed the mystery in The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble. I’ll likely eventually read the next book in the series.
Farraday Road and Swope’s Ridge by Ace Collins are the first two books in his Lije Evans series. I got a little lost with all the characters a few times, but overall it was an interesting mystery. Know that the mystery is not resolved in the first book; it leaves you hanging, and wraps up a bit more neatly in the second one. There’s a third book as well that I haven’t read yet.
Today is Christmas tree day! We typically go to a home improvement store and pick out a 6-to-7-foot Fraser fir tree. Hopefully I can get it decorated in the next couple of days.
Have a wonderful weekend!
For those of us who try to make gratefulness a priority all year long, this is a welcome season! It helps us focus on gratitude on a daily basis. It’s a time when even our culture encourages us to be thankful.
I recently read Psalm 103, and it’s a wonderful thanksgiving passage. Let’s look at the first six verses.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Wow, what a list of benefits from our Lord! Forgiveness, healing, redemption, lovingkindness (so often undeserved, might I add), and good things to satisfy our mouth. (And won’t we have an abundance of those on Thanksgiving day!!) Verse two tells us not to forget all these benefits; remembering what God has done for us is important!
My mind has been drawn to God’s healing this week. My sister’s husband just lost his mother to cancer at a relatively young age. Our family and many others prayed for her for a long time, asking God to take away the cancer and heal her body.
God answered our prayer for healing, but not in the way we would have prescribed. A few days ago, He gave her a permanent healing, an everlasting relief from her pain. It’s another life circumstance that can make us want to doubt His goodness and providence. Yet we know that giving thanks in all things is part of His will for us. [I Thessalonians 5:18] And we trust in His plan to always do what is for our good and His glory.
In verses 10-12, we find a benefit that only God can give us, forgiveness of sins.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Mercy. That’s God’s compassion and forbearance raining down on us. It can’t even be measured. We could never in a million lifetimes have paid for our sin. Yet Jesus Christ took it all on Himself, and paid our penalty.
Verses 15-16 remind us of just how fast our lives go by.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
Let’s be thankful for the time we have. We each get a certain number of years to flourish and prosper. But they’re short. And then, just like when a flower dies, we won’t be remembered long here. But each day we’re given, we can be doing what will matter when we’re gone as we love others, share our faith, and seek to bring glory to God.
Then verse 19 brings hope for our souls.
The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
I might be a little depressed these days if I thought all I had was this life here on earth. There’s lots of injustice, dishonesty, corruption, and plain ol’ evil. But we just read that God’s got a throne in heaven and that one day, He will reign over all. So whether or not politics goes our way or justice seems to be served, we can be thankful that all will one day be made right by the King of Kings.
The last verse of Psalm 103 brings us full circle.
Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.
Bless the Lord with me in this Thanksgiving season!!
On a personal note, I hope you and those you’re celebrating with have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We’re spending the week, just the four of us, in a cabin in the mountains near Pigeon Forge, TN. Our Thanksgiving meal will be courtesy of Cracker Barrel. (Not a first for us, for sure, even though some kids in one of my daughter’s classes told her that eating at Cracker Barrel doesn’t count as a real Thanksgiving meal, ha!! Don’t worry – one day soon, I’ll make all our Thanksgiving favorites at home!)
I’m very thankful for each one of you who takes the time to read this blog. May you recognize God’s goodness in your life, not only at Thanksgiving, but every day of the year!
Elizabeth says My Prickly Teen is Teaching Me New Ways to Love. If you don’t have a teenager yet, trust me when I say you may want to save this post to refer to later!!
Tricia shares How to Truly Love Your Middle Schooler.
I realized anew how much I take the Bible for granted after reading Rachel’s article on Two Secret Churches in North Korea Show How Powerful the Bible Really Is.
If you have a road trip coming up, you may want to check out Anne’s list of 40 Favorite Audiobooks for Kids.
My plans for today include going on a breakfast date with my husband, then taking one of my daughters shopping for basketball shoes. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!