Tag Archives | Christmas

Go TELL it

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The great commission–what Jesus CALLS us to do is get out there and tell everyone about Him.  What better time than today???  What better time than tomorrow and the day after that, and after that, and after that?

Go!  Tell!  Jesus Christ is BORN!  Alleluia!

We are blessed to have Him:  purely IN our hearts with joyful belief.

Merry Christmas everyone!  Happy Birthday Jesus!

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Can you imagine?

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What if she hadn’t believed?  What if she had told God, “Umm, NO, I don’t think so!”  Can you imagine?  I mean, look at all the men in the Old Testament that their first reaction was to argue with God that they couldn’t do it–Moses, Jonah, Abraham.  She at first was perplexed, being a virgin–I mean not great timing and a little weird for this to happen.  But she never ARGUED.  At least it isn’t recorded.  She went along with it. She believed.  She was like, “Okay, let’s do this God.”

What????  Can you imagine?  You go girl!

I want to imagine that God can do big things with me if I just believe.  Don’t you?  And what if we don’t argue about it with God?  We go along with His plan, His timingHis ideas.  What could He have imagined for each of us?

Can you imagine?

 

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Searching for an Inn

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I lied…I kept listening to the Piano Guys and came across this one and got another idea!

Code Name Vivaldi (Bourne Soundtrack/Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto) – ThePianoGuys

I am a DIEHARD fan of the Bourne movies.  LOVE them, watched them over and over, love the music soundtracks (had one as a ringtone).  It is something I share with Jeff and my dad–we even let the kids watch the chase scenes they are sooo good.  I know, crazy.

So what the heck does Bourne have to do with Christmas and being an innkeeper???

The searching.  The never giving up to find out who we truly are.

 That is what this week leading up to the birth of Christ is!  Right?  Mary and Joseph searched and searched for a room, and there were no guest rooms/upper rooms available (plus who wants to go up stairs when you are labor???)  So they stayed in a stable.

The Hebrews had been searching for a savior.  The wise men were searching for a star.  The shepherds were searching for what the angels announced.

We are all searching to find out who we are, for the IN:

we are God’s children.  We are LOVED.  That is who we are.

We just have to open up the stables in our hearts and acknowledge it all–let it all in–throw open those doors–let all those other searchers in and just roll with all that love.

So:  directions for today:  listen to the song, imagine Joseph and Mary searching, imagine the Hebrews searching, wise men searching. US searching.  Feel the urgency.

Then, realize, as they all did, we found the IN

Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of All who Loves and Commands us to Love Like Him.  

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Draw Nearer

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Here is today’s link to music:  The Piano Guys:  Nearer My God to Thee

This art piece has all sorts of layers of meaning:  I originally just drew it to focus on Jesus this Christmas, then it became our cover piece for the Advent art/coloring/drawing workbook for Bible Stories from the Heart.  But my favorite:  my cousin’s daughter rearranged all of their nativities (they have 3 or 4) so that every piece is facing the baby Jesus and they are in TIGHT.  Super close.  She is DEAD ON!  That is how we should all go to the manger–up tight and close facing the Christ.  May we draw nearer to our God.

And here are the lyrics to this hymn:

Lyrics

  1. 1. Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer to thee!
    E’en though it be a cross
    That raiseth me.
    Still all my song shall be
  2. (Chorus)
    Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer to thee!
  3. Though like the wanderer,
    The sun gone down,
    Darkness be over me,
    My rest a stone,
    Yet in my dreams I’d be
  4. There let the way appear,
    Steps unto heav’n;
    All that thou sendest me,
    In mercy giv’n;
    Angels to beckon me
  5. Then with my waking thoughts
    Bright with thy praise,
    Out of my stony griefs
    Bethel I’ll raise;
    So by my woes to be
  6. Or if, on joyful wing
    Cleaving the sky,
    Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
    Upward I fly,
    Still all my song shall be
    Text: Sarah F. Adams, 1805-1848
    Music: attr. to Lowell Mason, 1792-1872
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Where Are You Christmas?

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Here is today’s link to music:  The Piano Guys Where Are You Christmas?

I have said it before, I will say it again many times I am sure:  Christmas can be hard.  So let your self remember right now…I know a lot of people see cardinals and think of loved ones:  in fact there is a poem about it.  And there is nothing more beautiful than a bright red cardinal against a snowy white backdrop.  Today, as you listen remember your loved ones who are no longer here, and remember the joys of Christmases past, and know that they are thinking of you and loving you and missing you as well. This cardinal is your sighting for today of your loved one in your memories.  May it bless you.

Song by James Horner and Will Jennings:
Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter you used to bring me?
Why can’t I hear music play?
My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Where are you Christmas? Do you remember
The one you used to know?
I’m not the same one, see what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go?
Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh
If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time
I feel you, Christmas, I know I’ve found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love
Where are you Christmas?
Fills your heart with love
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Magic of the Season

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**Quick note–the images are going to appear smaller now–apparently I was using too much drive space at Dreamhost and it was causing my site to go down a lot this fall.  One of the steps I am taking is to post smaller resolution images.  Hopefully this helps!

I have been sucked into the Hallmark movie channel–all the Christmas ones are playing and I can not get enough of the love and magic in those movies!  They are not “Christian” but I do love that none of them focus on lustful love or the presents–but that wonderful magic that happens when people share, and give, and bond–between two people and in whole communities.  Ahhh.  Yes, the romantic in me sighs every time.

The great thing about this time of year, I have finally realized, is that we are supposed to celebrate the romance and magic of the season.  During my scroogey years I got sucked into Santa Christmas and the whole wrong magic– and it made me crazy.  It made me despise this time of year.  Now that I am focusing more on the Jesus magic and love, I have it all back in perspective.

Remembering where the magic really is this season can get tricky.  The magic IS NOT SANTA.  He is a representation of the magic–because the MAGIC is the sharing of LOVE.  And that love when true and light filled comes from one source: Christ. Whether non-Christians want to believe that or not, our faith tells us God created us all with the capacity to love and requires us to share that with one another.  God designed each of us to share the magical sense of love with one another.  And it is magical when we see love being shared.  Truly it is–it shines like a star.

I hope that you are all able to see the shiny Jesus magic star love this holiday season.  I hope that we are able to share it with those around us.

 

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‘Tis the Season

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Here we are again, gearing up for Christmas.  I have a little Christmas spirit already…a little.  This year I am going to take it slower…not dive in all crazy from day one and hopefully I won’t get overwhelmed and can keep it going.

I have lists for shopping made up, and thanks to the craft show last weekend and a quick dive into Gap (for 50% off the whole store Thanksgiving morning in downtown Chicago) I have some of that shopping complete.  Which for me is quite miraculous.  I have some decorating done.  Some years I go all out and have the tree up and everything, this year I am going to wait a bit and ease myself into all of the fluff.  I do have up my nativity/advent grouping, lots of greenery, and all of the nutcrackers in the kitchen.  But the tree and any santas are waiting a couple weeks.

I gave up a few things last year to make things easier…I don’t send Christmas card photo and letters.  The list was too big (as many moves as we have–it was well over 100) and it was getting crazy expensive to get photos taken, photos ordered, stamps, etc.  I might send a few actual greeting cards of my artwork, but it was a relief to give myself an okay not to do this one thing.  I don’t bake as much either.  I enjoy everyone else’s creations.  My family doesn’t eat much of it anyway–and I don’t need the calories, and this year I can’t have the dairy or gluten anyway.

I kept the important stuff…we light the Advent candles almost every night with a carol and a prayer and scripture.  I listen to a lot of Christmas music.  We make the caramels and hand them out in mass quantities.  I make homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning (I am saving up my gluten so I can go nuts that day and have one).

This year I am adding something–I am already completely hooked on Hallmark channel Christmas movies.  They are so cheesy and sweet.  I just love them.  They are the romantic comedies I have been searching for all year!  I am not getting anything done at night because I am parked on the couch.  But my kids are with me, the fire is going, and I have a cup of tea too.  It is making me jolly.

Because that is what the season is about–being jolly in the things that mean the MOST.  I have finally discovered that.  It isn’t worrying about the perfect gift, perfect family photo and letter, perfect cookie platter, perfect Christmas matching outfits, perfect Christmas Pinterest craft and party, not about the perfect Christmas trip to family (that will go haywire anyway).

‘Tis the season to be JOLLY–  here are the definitions to remind us…more on this tomorrow.

  1. happy and cheerful.
    “he was a jolly man full of jokes”   cheerful, happy, cheery, good-humored, jovial, merry, sunny, joyful,joyous, lighthearted, in high spirits, bubbly, exuberant, ebullient,gleeful, mirthful, genial, affable, fun-loving
    verb    to encourage (someone) in a friendly way.
adverb  BRITISH  informal  very; extremely.
  1. “that’s a jolly good idea”
noun  BRITISH informal  a party or celebration.

 

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A super moment

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There is one moment that stands out among all moments:  Christ’s birth.  And the angels proclaimed it because it was outstandingly special.

Luke 2: 10-14

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people;  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Let us all proclaim it with shouts of joy this night.

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He is coming!

Oooh!  The countdown is coming close!  He is coming!  How are you preparing?  Are you ready for HIM?  Not Santa, that we will never be ready  for, but for our Savior.  This is one birthday I will always want to celebrate.    I will sing with the trees and the angels.  Let’s all do it together.

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All his names

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Do you have a nickname?

Annika and I just finished reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  Little Jeffrey is nicknamed Maniac because, well, he is pretty manic about a lot of things.  At the end of the book we discussed what significance his nickname had to him, to the other characters, and to the book as a whole.  I have a lot of nicknames for Miss Annika:  koala, tree frog, monkey, Miss A, Annika bonika, and more.  They all have something to do with her personality, they are all special to her, they all endear her to me.  Even though she scowls at me, I know that she likes them.  They are something special between the two of us.

I love that Jesus has many names.  That we can call on him using a moniker that defines the moment and the need.  That can define our relationship with him.

In Talledega Nights Will Ferrell has a silly scene where he talks about praying to the baby Jesus, the teenage Jesus, the bearded Jesus.  It is silly.  But actually I like the point it brings up.

Jesus is who He is to each of us.  He just wants to have a relationship with you.  He will answer no matter how you call.  When we believe, He will bless us with grace and love that knows no bounds.   He is God.  He hears us, he listens, he knows.  He will call you HIS.

I like that.

Emmanuel is my favorite by the way.  🙂  And I prefer the teacher Jesus.

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Keeping perspective this holiday

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And then there is this piece.  I had to do one silly one.  But, really, this is the one I might need in poster size on my mirror every morning.

I love the Christian part of Christmas.  I am not a gifts and Santa kind of person.  I dread it…starting NOW I break into a sweat anytime I consider having to find something for someone else.  I put too much pressure on myself.  Writing about it is giving me the heebie jeebies.  My weird mental block with gifts is a whole lifetime with a psychiatrist worth of story, let alone in a blog post.

I usually get all worked up, end up on a soapbox, or hiding in a corner, and really just want to stay in my room for the season.

So this is my mantra this year…don’t get your tinsel in a tangle Nicole.  Keep it cool.  Keep it loose.  Focus on the love.  Untangle my thoughts, my emotions, my hot buttons.

Instead let the tinsel shine…let it sparkle…let it be the love/the icing on the tree.  Let it shine in the front window to let everyone see the celebration of love and Jesus.

How about you?  Does your tinsel get tangled?  Will you join me in trying to enjoy this season this year?

Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has always enjoyed it?

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Mary at Christmas

IMG_0010She sure did!

Talk about a huge leap of faith, pushing yourself to your own limits, inspiring others by persevering.

She is literally the mother of all motivation.

She gave herself over, let go of it all, let God work in her.  She let Him turn her life upside down so that He could turn ours right side up through Jesus.

I wish I could  give her a fist bump.

Now, it is our turn to believe.  To believe that we CAN.  That we can believe, that we can go past our limits, that we can inspire others, that we can believe in love and Christ, that we can give it up, let it go, turn upside down to share the truest love ever.

She did.  You do.

 

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Christmas previews

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I tend not to be inspired for Christmas.  I have a hard time coming up with images I like usually.  Actually, Christmas is not one of my favorite holidays…I let the stress get to me.  I prefer Easter.  But I knew that for Christmas Crossroads I should really have some holiday merchandise. (So yes, this will be for sale soon in Etsy as well.)

But this year, I am kind of looking forward to Christmas.  I am in a better place inside my head, I have let a lot of things go that bugged me about the holiday season, and I have a new plan for coping, a new plan to focus on faith and not the secular reasons for the celebration.  And so, the images came much easier.

I found words that were not as used, a little off the beaten path, fresh to me–with no connections to past stresses.  I was able to consider Christmas in a whole new way, and it came out in my journals and the artwork.

love this idea.  True love was born in a stable.  The purest, most sacrificial, deepest, most profound love ever.  It came in the purest and newest form.  I like to think of the love radiating from that stable that most precious of nights.  O holy night, the stars were brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Can you see the love reflecting from the stars?  God sent Jesus that night for each of us.  The best gift ever.  The  strongest proof ever of his enduring promises for us.

Yes, true love was born in a stable.

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Drawing near, waiting, and listening

IMG_0010More and more I love Exodus.  God was right there for the Israelites, when they wanted to listen, when they were willing to wait.  Those poor people had a lot of waiting to do, but don’t we all?

The countdown for Christmas is going on at our house.  We do Advent devotions each night, which the kids love–a story, a song, maybe a treat.  It is also our timeline for when Christmas will arrive.  Of course, Tanner (who is 5) is leading the way in announcing every morning, “Only 5 more DAYS!!!”   Oh, the waiting.

We are waiting for Christ– for His birth and his coming  again.  But the thing is, we don’t  have to!  He is here.  NOW.  In our hearts.  Listening to our every need, spoken and silent.  We just have to draw near to Christ and let him work his magic in his own time.

There are a lot of people waiting for peace and guidance this Christmas.  I know so many who have lost loved ones in the past few months.  Or made major moves across the country, or found out they were going to make a huge move.  Or just dealing with the day to day. Know that God has heard you.  Draw near to him. Keep waiting and his answers will come.

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