Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Thoughts: On Gifts

5 Dec

I’d like to do a short series in the month of December featuring various thoughts I have about Christmas. Here’s the first installation. 

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If I had a penny for every time I heard a Christian lament the gift-giving frenzy that is Christmas in America, I’d be able to buy every Christmas gift I’ve ever wanted.

Don’t get me wrong – I agree that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, and Christmas shopping in general are out of control. Even though I’ve gone shopping on Black Friday the past 3-4 years (at a respectable hour like 6 am), I refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I just can’t imagine ever wanting to buy something so bad that I have to miss out on family time to get it. But I digress…

I think that as Christians, it is tempting to swing the opposite direction of our culture and think that gift-giving at Christmas is bad. I myself, for one, have had the thought during more than one Christmas, “If Christmas isn’t really about the gifts, why are we [meaning my family] still doing that whole thing? Why don’t we just do away with gifts entirely?”

But I think that mindset is missing the point. The problem with Christmas gifts is not that the act of giving gifts is wrong – it’s that the gifts have become ends in themselves. They are often no longer a way to show another person that we care enough about them to spend the time, energy and money to buy something that we hope makes them happy. They are an expectation of the receiver and a duty of the giver.

Deep down, though, I believe that we as humans enjoy giving gifts – even more than we enjoy receiving them. At the very least, we were created to enjoy giving gifts. Why? Because we were created in God’s image and He is the Ultimate Giver. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

So at Christmastime, I think that we can embrace giving gifts as a reflection of our heavenly Father’s character and the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Use this time of year as an opportunity to teach our kids the reasons why we give, and allow them to experience giving themselves, not just receiving. Emma’s still a little young to understand the whole concept, but we plan to make giving to the less fortunate one of our family traditions (throughout the year, but especially at Christmas).

And finally for those of us like me, who still struggle a little with the idea that Christmas gifts feel expected and not spontaneous, it can be helpful to remember that giving gifts to those we love is not just a way of being forced to fight the holiday crowds. Instead, giving can be an expression of Christ’s love to them… and a blessing to ourselves in return.

Christmas & New Years 2013

5 Jan

This year for Christmas, we road-tripped to Minnesota. It is 13 hours to my parents’ house and 16 to Travis’, but we ended up encountering snowy roads on both the way there and back, so it took us about 15.5 to get to my parents’ and 17 to get back from Travis’ parents. Brutal!

1511162_676430672387258_369919521_nSomewhere in Iowa, 5 am

20131222_075017Emma did pretty well though. We drove overnight, leaving around 6 pm on our way out and 1:30 pm on the way back. The way there, Emma fell asleep right away and slept the whole time, only waking up when we stopped for gas. I nursed her a couple of times but she was really easy until the morning. We were supposed to get to Rochester by 8 am CT, but we didn’t end up arriving until 9:30. Once Emma woke up around 7 am, she wanted out of her carseat. I did a few smiles out of her though…

20131222_093044The same thing happened on the way back, except her fussy period was on the front end. We left at her nap time, she slept for 1.5 hours, then was awake for about 3 hours, and fell back asleep around 8 pm. During her awake time, she was somewhat fussy. We stopped to eat dinner and took her out of her carseat, partly to feed her dinner and partly to give the distinction between her nap and bedtime. After she fell asleep for the night, she slept almost straight through until 5 am. She was a little fussy then too until we got home around 7 am. But I was fussy after being in the car that long, so I can’t blame her! We were very relieved to get home. I said what I always say after that trip: “I never want to do that again.”

Other than the drive, our trip to Minnesota was very enjoyable. We spent the week of Christmas with my family, since that’s when my siblings would be in town. Because of my mom’s health, our time in Rochester was very lowkey – we mostly just hung out at home, eating, playing games (Yahtzee and Rummikub), playing with Emma and my nephew Jensen, watching movies and talking.

1531680_10101193921359232_124572735_nJensen saw us putting stuff on Emma’s head as a game, and he decided it looked like fun!

1468708_10101193921194562_1566288813_nEmma did a lot better with sleep than I was expecting, considering she was teething and congested. We did have to bounce her to sleep for the majority of her naps and bedtime, but at least she wasn’t screaming like she did the last time we were in Rochester. She also slept pretty well at night, waking up only a few times and going right back to sleep after I nursed her. Even so, I’m sure that God gave me LOTS of patience. Travis and I also switched off getting up early with Emma, so that one of us could get a little more sleep.

We celebrated Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve morning, since that was the only time we’d all be together. We opened gifts first – Emma didn’t quite get the whole unwrapping thing but she liked all the toys she received! She got a cute outfit from her aunt and uncle and this alligator push toy from grandma and grandpa. I got a couple of new scarves and nail polish.

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IMG_5182 (Large)After opening gifts, we ate brunch. Then my brother, his fiancee and my sister-in-law left and the rest of us hung out until it was time to go to the Christmas Eve service at 4:30. After church, we ate chili for dinner and played some Yahtzee.

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On Thursday, it warmed up enough that we braved the outdoors. It was Emma’s first experience in the snow. She seemed to enjoy it overall, but was not a fan of her hand in the snow!

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IMG_5222 (Large)IMG_5227 (Large)Travis also went sledding down the steps of the deck.

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IMG_5218 (Large)On Friday morning, Travis and I packed up our stuff and hit the road. We had planned to leave for Emma’s first nap, but she hadn’t slept well the night before, I wanted to shower and we had a crapton of stuff to pack up. So we ended up leaving for her second nap of the day instead. It worked out well. She slept most of the 4.5 hour drive to Nevis. 

Our time there was a lot more lowkey than it normally is, because it was so cold outside. It was hardly above zero the whole time we were there. The day after we arrived, though, it was 30 degrees so we took advantage of the ‘warm’ weather and took Emma sledding down the driveway.

IMG_5252 (Large) IMG_5250 (Large)Another night, Travis, Emma and I ‘went to town’ to have dinner with some friends. But other than that, Emma and I didn’t go outside at all. (Well, I did walk from one side of the house to the other when it was 20 below just to remember what it was like.)  

We opened Christmas presents on Saturday night, so that Emma could play with all of her fun new toys. I’m pretty sure her toy collection doubled on this trip. She got Stack n Roll cups, a xylophone, Rock a Stack rings, a musical book, and several cute new outfits, among other small things.

IMG_5267 (Large) IMG_5266 (Large)The rest of our time we spent eating (of course), playing games (Pictionary and MarioKart on the Wii, Pub Trivia, Catch Phrase and Bananagrams), playing with all of Emma’s new toys, and doing a lot of crossword puzzles and Sudoku. We also watched some movies, though I didn’t stay up for most of the them because Emma was sleeping pretty poorly. I think she went through a growth spurt in addition to teething and the congestion. It was a doozy! Fortunately, grandma was willing to watch Emma in the mornings so that both Travis and I could sleep in until 8 or 9. 

1508513_10201283314429703_1340272208_nOn Wednesday, Travis’ aunt and uncle, aunt, cousin and his girlfriend came up for New Years Day. We ate a late lunch, played some Pub Trivia, opened gifts and then they drove the 3 hours back to the Cities. We got more cute outfits and books for Emma, a calendar, office supplies and I got nice running gloves. 

Emma learned how to use a walker on this trip at both houses. Can I just ask, why can’t they make a walker the right size for a 9 month old? Both walkers had to be adjusted down so that Emma could touch the ground. But we made it work and she really enjoyed standing up and moving around. She could mostly only go backward, but toward the end of our trip, she could go forward slightly too.

IMG_5296 (Large) IMG_5298 (Large)Emma also got to use a Johnny Jumpup for the first time in Nevis. She really enjoyed that too – I think, as much as a normal jumperoo. Definitely a good thing to have on vacation (or at grandma’s house). 

IMG_5260 (Large)She’s also starting talking a lot more, and rolling over a ton, but I will talk more about those things in her 9-month update on Tuesday!

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Christmas Festivities + House Projects

18 Dec

Things have been pretty busy over here, but life is good!

Wednesday night, we had our Christmas celebration with our care group. We ate dinner together as usual and then played a huge group game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun! Travis and I both won a round.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Travis’ company at The Fort in Morrison. It’s a small company (4 men + Travis) so we all had fun chatting and laughing about the crazy stuff that happens on the road.

Friday, I had lunch with a friend and then went to the church to set my table up for the women’s Christmas tea on Saturday.

20131213_141239 20131213_141246 20131213_141253Saturday, Travis worked on the soffet and fascia while I ran errands and frantically baked some Bagel Bites right before leaving for the Christmas tea. The tea was a lot of fun though, and I got to chat with some new faces. Right when the tea ended, I packed up my table quickly, drove home to nurse Emma and then turned around to take her to the babysitters for our date night. We went out to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery and then to Avs vs. Wild game. It was a pretty tame game – the teams were so evenly matched that not many surprise plays happened. But the game ended up going into overtime and a shoot out, where the Wild won!

Sunday, Travis did some more work on the soffet and fascia while Emma napped and I cleaned our house for the first time in way too long (oops). I also picked some friends up from the airport.

Monday, it was in the upper 50s, so we had Charlotte watch Emma while Travis and I painted the soffet and fascia. We got it scraped, washed and painted in about 6 hours!

20131216_115114This shows all the scraping we did.

Tuesday, I took a half day off from work to help Travis put a second coat of paint on. Painting is done! We went from white to a dark brown based on our realtor’s suggestion. I never would’ve thought to paint it dark brown but we think it looks nice! My neck is so tired from looking up for that long.

housepainting1 housepainting2We’re not quite ready for the gutters to be installed – Travis has to add a piece of wood for them to hang the gutters on – but we’re very close!

So that’s what we’ve been up to around here! Next up is packing for our trip to Minnesota. So excited!

Emma Grace: 8 Months

7 Dec

Back when Emma was born, her first Christmas seemed like an eternity away. And here it is, in just a few weeks! Craziness.

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Emma is getting so big! She’s wearing almost all 9-month clothes, and some 12-month. We’ve decided that she has a really long torso, because she outgrows the shirt of an outfit before the pants even fit (length-wise)! She also wears dresses in at least one size bigger than normal, otherwise her bum is hanging out all the time.

20131204_114922Her feet finally fit into shoes!

SLEEP

Emma is down to 2 naps a day. She can go 2 – 2.5 hours between naps now, and go 3.5-4 hours between her last nap and bedtime. Every once in a while, she needs 3 naps, but I try to not let that happen because then she stays up too late. It’d be ok if she slept in, but she still gets up at the same time as ever, usually between 5:30 and 6. Aye. So she and I both get less sleep than if she just went to bed earlier. Her ideal bedtime is between 6 and 7.

Emma had gotten back into the groove of sleeping at least 8 hours straight after her first teething episode, but then the past week, she started waking up 2-4 times a night again. I thought maybe she was teething but nothing’s happened there, so who knows?

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Emma has gotten in the groove of eating 3 meals of solid foods a day. So far, they’ve all been purees but we’re going to start trying finger foods. The few times we’ve tried little hunks of cheese or Cheerios, Emma couldn’t get them to her mouth, but we’ll keep trying! Her favorite food so far is yogurt. She also likes bananas, applesauce, butternut squash and spinach mixed with banana.

She did have her first little bout of constipation this past month, but a couple days of eating pureed prunes and peaches, and she was back to normal. Man, are solid food poops messy though!

Little by little, my milk is dwindling. I think that’s one reason why Emma takes shorter naps at home than at daycare – she drinks more in a bottle at daycare than she does in a nursing session at home. Since she stays awake longer now too, I’ve started nursing her before her naps so that she’ll sleep longer.

I started pumping only twice at work, instead of 3 times, and usually get about 3-4 oz each, which is only enough for about 1 bottle. It is what it is. Emma just drinks more formula. I’ve been giving her at least 2 oz of formula before bed, in addition to nursing. One night, I nursed Emma and she fell asleep but she woke up about an hour later, and seemed hungry. I gave her a bottle and she chugged 8 oz! Girlfriend was hungry.

Emma8Month 031 (Large)DEVELOPMENT

Just in the past couple of days, Emma has started rolling over to her belly voluntarily to play with toys. And she’ll stay there for a little while before rolling back. Yay Emma! I’m glad to see that she’s no longer a tummy hater. But I’ve noticed this with a few things – if I put her on her tummy, she doesn’t like it. If she chooses to roll over, she’s fine. Little Miss Independent.

Emma still falls over quite a bit sitting up, but I think this will get better once she starts to crawl/move around on her own. She stills loves to stand up and has gotten a lot more steady on her feet. She can hold herself up on furniture briefly. We bought her this Baby Einstein activity table for Christmas so that she had something to play with while standing up. We’ve let her play with it early, since we’ll be in Minnesota for Christmas, but she’s not a huge fan. I think it might be sensory overload. Hopefully that gets better as she gets older. We also bought her this shape sorter for Christmas, which we’ll bring to MN with us.

Emma8Month 026 (Large)Emma has started giggling a lot more this past month – she’ll giggle at a bunch of stuff that you wouldn’t even think was funny. Like the knife set on our counter. Our Christmas tree. The bunny on the shelf in her room. The dogs. A squeezy spoon. (Seriously, watch that video – it’s so funny!) And she’s still squawking and smiling up a storm – she is almost always making noise. She’s such a happy little girl.

The best way to describe her favorite noise to make right now, though, is gurgling. She does it in the back of her throat. It’s so cute. But a little difficult to do while eating.

Emma8Month 034 (Large)Emma likes to flap her arms up and down, and when laying down, she slams her feet on the ground. (It’s hard to describe baby movements, but those of you with babies probably know what I’m talking about!) She also gets so excited when I pick her up that she does a little jumping motion in my arms.

I think Emma might be starting to develop some attachment issues because she hardly ever lets anyone else hold her, especially if I’m in the room. She’d rather be sitting next to me than being held by someone else, and has started reaching for me if someone else is holding her. But she is still doing great at daycare and still likes Daddy, so that’s good!

20131204_075349I mentioned this in a previous post, but we’ve started swapping date nights with some friends whose daughter is about 3 weeks younger than Emma. Emma has enjoyed it so much! It’s been so cute to watch Emma look at her friend, reach out to touch her, and try to interact with her. Emma also loves my friend’s 4-year-old boy at daycare – apparently, he cracks her up all the time!

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Emma is such a joy! I am blessed to be her mother.

Monday Randomness

11 Nov

Here’s some randomness for you on this Monday morning:

1) This is over now, but this past summer/fall, Travis traveled so much for work that his boss kindly gave us a $50 stipend to go out to eat every weekend. And we took full advantage of it! At first, we just ordered food or got takeout, so that we didn’t have to deal with Emma freaking out in a restaurant. But the last month and a half or so, we went out to Red Lobster, Macaroni Grill, Texas Roadhouse, and local restaurants Colorado Plus Brewpub, A Taste of Home Cooking, and Trattoria Stella. Some outings were too late and Emma was fussy but usually she did really well. And now that she can sit up in a high chair, eating out is even easier.

2) I finally spent a couple hours Saturday and yesterday making baby food for Emma. I made butternut squash, green beans (which she didn’t like!), carrots, spinach (pureed with a banana to make it a bit thicker), and sweet potatoes. I think we’re set for a while!

3) I wasn’t sure how I would like cloth diapers once we started getting into solid foods, since Emma’s poo would also be more solid. But it actually hasn’t been bad at all. Her business comes off really easily, either all by itself or with a little spray from our shower hose, and it really doesn’t gross me out at all. So I think we’ll keep going with the cloth!

4) Our church’s single and young married group had our annual Chili Cook-off yesterday. Travis and I have won twice with our elk chili, but we did not take home the trophy this year. No matter. There were some really good chili recipes this year! And the chili that won was the one that I voted for. It was called ‘For the Faint of Heart’ and had no heat and no meat. Unconventional, but delicious!

5) We’ve started packing up our house in preparation for moving/showing. We also went to Home Depot and got a new exterior light, a wireless doorbell (since ours was broken), and some paint samples. Moving at this time of year definitely presents some challenges, especially when there are things outside that need to be painted and stained. We weren’t really planning to move this quickly, but with the condition of my mom’s health, we’d like to move as soon as possible. So we’re trying to figure it all out quickly and try to get this stuff done while the weather is still nice.

6) Emma has been sleeping better since last Friday but still doesn’t seem to quite be herself. At church yesterday, she lasted 5 minutes in the nursery before having an inconsolable meltdown. She was fine sitting and playing with me though. I might take her into the doctor today to see if it’s an ear infection.

7) Travis’ birthday is coming up at the beginning of December and I’ve actually taken the time and effort to plan something fun. He’ll be traveling for work on his actual birthday but we are going on a date night the Saturday before his birthday (for the first time since… a long time!) and I am so excited! God has really put it on my heart to make our marriage more of a priority, so I’m doing that.

8) We’re volunteering for Operation Christmas Child again this year, the day before Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to that too. I didn’t go last year because I was pregnant and didn’t think I could handle standing for 4 hours straight, but I’m ready this year!

9) We’ve decided that we’re going back to Minnesota for Christmas and will stay 2 weeks – the week of Christmas and the week of New Year’s. While it won’t be as relaxing as Christmas past, it’ll be Emma’s first Christmas, which I’m really looking forward to! She is too, though she doesn’t know it yet. And it’s always great to see our families.

10) We’re staying here for Thanksgiving though. I’d like to do a Turkey Trot but Travis might go play in our church’s Turkey Bowl. Maybe Emma and I will do it ourselves… Or maybe I’ll try to find a friend who’d be interested. For dinner, we’re getting together with friends from church who also won’t be with family. Can’t wait! I love the holiday season! I might just start putting Christmas decorations out now…

A Christmas Wreath

30 Dec

Back when my parents were out visiting and my mom and I sewed the curtains for the nursery, we were standing in line at the checkout at Joann Fabrics and I saw a yarn ball wreath on the cover of Martha Stewart Living. It was ridiculously cute (of course) and it looked totally doable. I quickly paged to the tutorial, saw that they had just used a styrofoam wreath and balls, wrapped in yarn and glued together and knew it was something I could do.

So when I drew my sister-in-law’s name for Christmas, I decided that I would make her a wreath (and me as well, while I was at it). I didn’t want to actually buy the magazine for the tutorial so I looked online and found this tutorial, which suggested using crumpled up newspaper instead of really expensive styrofoam balls. I also saw on Pinterest a suggestion to use pipe insulation instead of a styrofoam wreath. Initially, I had planned on just going with the Martha Stewart way – it just seemed better. Well, the prices of styrofoam balls and wreaths are ridiculous. Seriously, it would cost just as much to buy a yarn ball wreath already made as it would to make it myself that way. So newspaper and pipe insulation it was.

The pipe insulation ended up being the perfect length, and I just taped the ends together into a circle. I covered it with white yarn and then was on to making the balls. I had chosen white yarn, red yarn and twine (inspired by the blog tutorial I used, above, and the colors my SIL likes) for the balls, and also bought some sparkly little balls to use as well. I discovered how much newspaper made what size of ball and tried to make a variety. Once I had about 15 balls, I started hot-gluing them on the wreath. After that, I made the balls as I needed them, so that I could make the perfect color and size for the spot.

Once all the balls were glued on, I affixed some beading wire across the back (like you do for a heavy picture frame) so she could hang it easily.

Voila!

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I LOVE how the wreath turned out and would totally have made one for myself like I had planned, except that the whole wreath took forever to wrap and glue. So I made one for my sister-in-law, took pictures and called it done.

Maybe I’ll get ambitious again in another life?

Christmas 2012

27 Dec

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Our Christmas was very enjoyable this year (but how can you not enjoy Christmas?).

I worked from home Monday and we left around 2:30 to drop our dogs off at a friend’s and head up to Estes Park (about 90 minutes away). It started snowing as we got into Estes Park and snowed 4-5 inches over the course of the night. We were sharing a condo with our friends and their 2 kids, so we talked for a while, cooked dinner, played Ticket to Ride (love that game!), and watched Elf.

The next morning, we opened the gifts we had brought (Travis and I brought our stockings that his mom packed to the brim) and then ate breakfast. After breakfast, we packed up and headed out into the snow.

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blendsgiving 021 (Large)We went to pick our dogs up and ate some cinnamon rolls with our friends. Then we headed home. We unpacked, tidied up, put our Christmas dinner in the crockpot and then opened presents. I got nice new headphones, baby bath stuff (hooded towels, washcloths and soap), $50 for a mani/pedi and… a Keurig coffee maker!

20121226_084005The coffee maker is for both me and Travis. We are really excited. We’ve already used it twice and love it. We used to make so much extra coffee (to get the blend right) so I think that even though the coffee will be more expensive than our Folgers, it’ll taste better and we’ll end up wasting less.

After presents, it was time to bum. We watched The Tourist and the rest of Downton Abbey Season 2, while enjoying the awesome surround sound and Blu-ray player that my parents gave us for Christmas. We are fans.

By then it was dinner time, so we ate our chicken wild rice soup and crescent rolls with some sparkling grape juice. Then we tried calling our families (unsuccessfully, though we did talk to mine a few hours later), started a puzzle and then watched The Bourne Legacy. I tried to stay awake but it was way past my bedtime.

We missed being with our families, but it’s really hard to not enjoy a relaxing Christmas just the two of us!

Christmas Festivities

23 Dec

A couple of weeks ago, I got together with some friends from church to make Christmas ornaments. It was a lot of fun to see what everyone created!

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blendsgiving 002 (Large)My ornaments

blendsgiving 004 (Large)This past Thursday night, we went to Travis’ work Christmas party. He works for a really small company (there are 5 employees) so we had dinner at a nice restaurant. Since my maternity wardrobe is pretty limited and I didn’t really want to buy a dress just for this occasion, I just wore one of my typical work outfits. I also convinced Travis that since the dress code was semi-formal, he couldn’t wear jeans. He cleans up nicely. 😉

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My department at work didn’t have a Christmas party this year because there has been a lot of layoffs in the past couple of weeks and no one was in the Christmas mood. There hasn’t even been any treats in the break room! Very Grinch-like.

Then on Friday night, we had a Christmas party for leaders at our church (we lead the projection/lights team). We met at the church for hors d’oeuvres and then went to Too Hot to Handel in downtown Denver.

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I had been to Handel’s Messiah before and decided it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but this was a jazzy modern version of it and it was really good! We had a good time.

This morning, we had our Christmas celebration at church. I always enjoy the break from routine and hearing the adult and kids choirs sing. So fun!

Other things we’re enjoying this Christmas are our tiny little tree:

blendsgiving 005 (Large)It’s only 3 feet tall. Our ornaments don’t even all fit on it anymore!

downton abbeyMy boss let us borrow her copy of Downton Abbey Season 2. We’ve already watched 5 episodes. This show is so addicting!

What are you enjoying this Christmas?

Repost: The Passion of Christmas

6 Dec

I’ve been listening to Christmas songs on KOSI 101.1 and discovered that I absolutely LOVE Josh Groban. Normally, I hate vibrato in singing (like opera) but he has an amazing voice. I can’t get over it. Anyway, a song they play a lot is his version of O Holy Night. And every time it comes on, I turn it up and just soak in the lyrics. In my opinion, it is one of the best songs ever written – because it captures the meaning of Christmas so succinctly AND has an amazing chorus. I included the lyrics below.

While I was writing about Christmas song lyrics, I thought I’d repost my thoughts about Christmas from last year. Enjoy.

First posted December 24, 2011

I love listening to Christmas music – not just because it puts me in the Christmas mood, but also because it floods my heart with the meaning of Christmas. This year, I am captivated by the passion behind historical Christmas hymns. The authors of these songs exhort us to adore Christ, fall on our knees before Him, and praise His name forever. They write of a world, weary under the burden of sin and guilt, that sees a new day, filled with hope, dawn with the birth of a simple babe. The Savior has come, the catalyst of God’s plan of redemption.

I like to imagine what it would have been like the night Jesus was born. Four hundred years had passed since God has spoken to His people. But God had promised a Messiah, a Redeemer. All of Israel was waiting for the Christ. And on that night in a little town of Bethlehem, a town “too little to be among the clans of Judah,” the long-awaited Messiah was born. Humble shepherds were at work in the field, watching their flocks in the moonlight, straining to stay awake. All of a sudden, they were blinded by “the glory of the Lord” and an angel told them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”

So what did they do? They went “with haste” to where the angel had indicated – to Bethlehem to find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This is what I find interesting: the Bible doesn’t say anything about them locking their sheep up first, or arranging for their care, or one of them staying behind. It seems that they just leave their flocks in the open field because they are so amazed and excited about what they were just told.

Does that go against common sense? Do I doubt that’s what actually happened?

Yes, because it seems so impractical, so irresponsible. I am challenged – what would I have done in that situation? Would I have been so consumed with responsibilities and practical concerns that I would think it foolish to abandon all and sit at my Savior’s feet? Would I be so captivated by Christ’s coming that I’d be willing to drop everything – abandon even my livelihood – and seek Him?

It’s easy to rest when there’s nothing pressing, nothing urgent. It’s easy to take a moment to breath when life’s tight grip on your schedule relaxes for an hour. But what about resting and breathing in the midst of the chaos? That’s what Christ came to bring us – His rest, a deep soul rest that can’t be touched by circumstances. What does it mean to have a deep soul rest in Christ?

Embracing the messiness of being human. Jesus Himself was born in a stinky stable surrounded by loud animals (not the serene night of perfect harmony pictured above). He slept on itchy, pokey hay and grew up as a pretty normal kid. Christ didn’t just experience what it meant to be human during His ministry. He lived his whole life as a human. He grew up with brothers and sisters as a human. He learned to walk, to talk, to laugh. He loved, he cried, he gave. “In every way he was tempted just as we are, yet without sin.” I love how Jesus embraced humanity – not just by becoming a baby (though that was big enough) but by also engaging in life. He wasn’t just alive – He lived. He didn’t view the basics of human existence as beneath Him – rather, He embraced those constraints. Instead of them getting in His way, He turned them into a source of blessing.

And all this, when He was the Son of God, the Most High, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, Author of Creation.

Pondering these truths, how can your heart not fill to bursting with the truth of Christmas?

O Holy Night (sung by Josh Groban)

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine