Category Archives: Christmas Countdown

And so this was Christmas <3

If you prayed for us…

we felt it and are deeply appreciative.

God smoothed paths and made Himself known in sweet ways and gave us peace and endurance and timing to be able to get enough settled that we pulled off a grand time together…

so here are the highlights

One by one they arrived…

Everyone…

and I mean everyone…

said it felt like home already.

Our stockings are still packed tightly away but no one seemed to mind the new look…

Rachel was particularly thankful to have minions to open hers…

Including trying out a few of her gifts for fun…

We celebrated between services Christmas Eve…

and while I couldn’t tell you which box the kitchen dish towels are hiding in, I did find the selfie stick.

The boys liked their presents…

but apparently took it a little too seriously…

Our Cubs fan was rewarded for waiting his whole life for a W…

and there was only just a little good-natured ribbing from his Cardinal fan in-laws.

Our Christmas Day dinner was also a bit non-traditional…

but it may be one worth repeating…

All in all…

 

Best. Day. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas Eve <3

Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours <3

I have some gift bag/stockings to fill and some soup to get in the crock pot…oh and a couple of boxes or twenty to try and unload before the kiddos arrive.

My heart is full of something…I think it’s joy but it could possibly be panic that I can actually find the crock pot now that I think about it…hmmmm….

My favorite part of this day will be when I settle in to the pew at 10 PM with whatever family we have here and that are awake to sit in the church we have sat in for the same 20 years we lived in that house we just left.

There will be some regulars and some missing faces.

It will be quiet and sweet and I will remember years when some brought little ones in jammies and one year when one of those had grown up into an adult and still came in his to the delight of all of us.

The old hymns will play and in the hush of the sanctuary with tiny white lights on so many trees…I will remember.

Remember that God sent His Son on a “recuse mission” as Tozer puts it.

Sent Him to save a wretch  like me…and …. well…I have to say it…one like you, my dear friend <3

Because all of us have fallen short and yet..

God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…

That whoever would believe..

place his or her faith in Him…

would be saved.

He didn’t come to make a social call or advance our status in the world.

He came to rescue our sorry selves and overcome the world.

Hallelujah and Merry Merry Christmas <3

Wrapping up the week…

As we come to Friday, what a Friday it is.

Not just the weekend but one of those years where Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the weekend.

Just kind of perfect in my mind.

And since we have been unpacking boxes, and retrieving boxes from storage and directing mover’s as to where to put more boxes…I am ready for any kind of weekend but especially Christmas weekend.

People have been so kind to offer help but quite honestly it would take me longer to explain where things go and what in the world I was thinking putting this move together.

We look more like we were fleeing the Apocalypse then moving across town.

But it’s working…and we are settling… and a new chapter begins.

This morning I sit at our old table in a new kitchen as we ponder our way through more of this year’s Advent theme song.

I feel more words are a scattered so my prayer is the Lord to edit out anything but what He would have you hear on this eve of Christmas Eve <3

Bring your peace into our violence … bid our hungry souls be fed

Word now breaking Heaven’s silence….welcome to our world.        Chris Rice lyrics

I could just breathe those lines as a prayer.

There is so much violence.

So much hatred and so little respect for the sanctity of life.

Photo courtesy of Bella Baby photography, rights purchased

There is the violence of hearts that have grown cold towards others, even in covenant relationships vows are set aside and God views this as violence.

And the only peace that will last is the peace that Christ brings.

We have a soul hunger that can only be filled by Him.

Although we have more and more in the way of knowledge and technology…

we can post and tweet and carry on a war with someone through the feeds on social media.

Words of rhetoric can stir people up to a frenzy or cause a slow simmer that eventually drives someone to literally drive into a crowd of people.

Mockers and cynics rob us of hope with pompous and arrogant words.

It’s ok to say “Pray” for a situation…but my goodness…keep God out of it all and please don’t bring Jesus in unless you just want to say

Our culture is loud and rude, arrogant and cynical.

Or filled with the empty promises of false religions that rely on the evolution of humanity to save us.

But only Christ will save us.

Only He who gave Himself wholly can make us Holy.

He alone brings Peace…not as the world gives…

not a compromise and a grudging concession to set aside our differences…

but PEACE…

PEACE between God and mankind.

RESTORATION…to all that He intended.

And so we welcome Him…

into our homes and our businesses and our government.

Into our own battered, wounded and yes…sometimes violent hearts.

We invite Him to enter in.

To speak, Lord, for we are now listening.

To break the silence and to nourish our weary souls.

He is not like us…He doesn’t force an agenda on us or debate with us.

It is, after all…

His world…

let’s welcome His Spirit to invade every corner <3

God with us <3

While I love so many of the carols and songs of Christmas, this year the one that has lingered in my heart is Welcome to our World. The lyrics are penned by Chris Rice, although many artists have recorded it.

His version remains my favorite although as our daughter Rachel pointed out in a comment on one post…we do remember a little blonde boy about age 5, sporting a tux and singing the opening lines at one of FCC’s Christmas programs 20 or so years ago.

So THAT would hold first place in my heart as far as those lines being sung.

Goes without saying <3

But today I want to just touch on this line from the lyrics:

*So wrap our injured flesh around You…breathe our air and walk our sod
Chris Rice/Welcome to Our World

The word picture here captures the mystery of the incarnation…how it is simultaneously so simple and yet, oh so very, complex.

I pause and try to picture the Son of God, Jesus Christ…

the One who spoke Creation into being.

The Living Word of God…

setting His Glory aside as one would take off a winter coat on entering a building…

and then, literally, put on human flesh to walk this earth like one of us.

This Holy One, who is described as wearing light as a garment. And, by the way, who does this? How magnificent is He that wears LIGHT like I wear a sweater?

But He chose to hang all of that on a rack and wrap human skin around Himself.

Wrapped Himself up in our wounds and our pain, put on our sorrows and sins, our disappointments and our failures….our joys and our laughter and our customs and our clothing.

And walked this earth.

And tho He did not sin, He wore our sin on the Cross.

And paid the penalty that would bring us reconciliation to the God we turned away from.

And then He wore the robes of Victory as He defeated death and rose…ascended to Heaven where it says He is once again wrapped in Glory and yet…

bears the marks of our Redemption.

He will return.

Wrapped in the garments of King and Judge.

He will make all things right and new.

But in the meantime…

in the waiting…

He still walks this earth…

wrapped in the garment of believers.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. NIV John 14:23

He has wrapped His Spirit in us…jars of clay holding the all-surpassing greatness of Christ.

We ARE His hands and feet…His heart beating here…until He returns to take us HOME <3

May God bless you and yours as you gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah…Emmanuel…

God with us <3

Will we wish we would have known?

While I love much of the wording of the song I introduced yesterday, I find this verse odd and yet so us…

Hope that you don’t mind our manger…

How I wish we would have known…

But long awaited Holy Stranger…

make yourself at Home…

Please make Yourself at Home.*

It is odd to me because I think through these things post-Resurrection.

With years of Bible study that started with flannel boards and VBS.

A searching to know Him more that has led me through some deep valleys and some winding roads…

some treks off the path, sometimes far off the path, and yet when I wandered…

by His Grace and Mercy, and only by His Grace that I never stopped loving Him

(although that He didn’t stop loving me is something that humbles me and leaves me filled with awe and wonder).

I wonder how anyone could say they wished they would have known.

Because how could they have not known?

With all the prophecies and all the expectations for a Messiah…how could they not have known?

But they didn’t.

Because they were looking for what they thought Messiah would be…and a baby born to a poor father and young mother in a stable…this was not what He should look like.

And so yes, they were unprepared.

Even though all the signs pointed to it.

Not to mention the angels.

And men from the East.

They were unprepared.

As are we.

We have been given all kinds of information about what things are going to look like prior to His Return and yet we, even we in the Church, are constantly using language and ideas that will leave us shaking our heads when He arrives to take us home, mumbling…

wow…how we wish we would have known.

Instead, I pray that we would begin to see the signs for what they are and stop trying to fix things or figure things out as to why this or that is happening.

And instead that we, who follow Christ, would strive to focus on how He has told us to live while we wait.

Because the problem with His first coming was that people wanted to believe what they wanted to believe.

And it would appear many will do the same for His Second Coming.

But you…and I … how will we live?

Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?

Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.

The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice.

We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.

 So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.

Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation.

Our good brother Paul, who was given much wisdom in these matters, refers to this in all his letters, and has written you essentially the same thing.

Some things Paul writes are difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way.

They do it to the rest of the Scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it.

 But you, friends, are well-warned.

Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers.

Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.Glory to the Master, now and forever!

Yes!”

2 Peter 3:11-18  The Message

How will we live while we wait?

*With all credit to Chris Rice…and all copy write apologies because I am not making a dime off of this and I would hope and pray he wouldn’t mind us being encouraged by his God-inspired lyrics….I hope to finish my pondering of that song with you in the days leading up to Christmas <3