mercy tree
tree

This song and accompanying video are arguably more suited to Easter than Christmas, but I couldn’t NOT share this with you. Maybe you’ve already seen it. I think I could watch it one thousand times.

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Pine needles fall from our Christmas tree, scatter about the wooden floor.

I sing the praises of my three year-old as he “sweeps,” scattering bits and pieces under the rug and to the far corners of the room.

This is our first Christmas in our new home.  I desperately wanted it to be memorable-idyllic.  We cut our own Christmas tree from our own acreage and I took a string of pictures of Mr. Marvelous hauling it into the house- the country Christmas I wanted to have, record, remember.  Now we are one week away from Christmas and there are twelve ornaments on the tree (twelve!), an exposed Christmas tree stand, and a heap of pine needles on the living room floor.  Life has a way of seeping in and filling our days with a current that, in a flash, takes us from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve at warp speed.

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The first weekend of December I bought fresh evergreen garland to hang on our front windows and front door.  To keep them fresh you are supposed to spray them daily, thoroughly, with water-especially the stems.  You should have seen the hysteria of me, madly spraying a plastic spray bottle to cover some 48 feet of evergreen while my baby banged on the window, crying for mommy.  Turns out the cozy country Christmas depicted in those coveted images is a lot more work than each peaceful scene would have you believe.  And when I stood outside yesterday, looking up at the front of our house at sad and drooping evergreen, I felt, for a self-indulgent moment or two, like a rather pathetic failure.

redeemed

I should have fallen on my face in worship, because the God I so desperately long to serve wrapped his arms around me, my self-pity and regret and opened my eyes.

This is what Christmas is about.

“Christmas is about the broken.  The wilting.  The dried up and the undone.”

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“This is why I had to come for you, beloved.”

For you.”

I had to come.”

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As the song says- “the weary world rejoices.”  Not the beautiful, bountiful, polished world.

So as I watch my little one clean pine needles fallen from a drooping tree, I train my mind to not see defeat but the very gospel this silly tree is supposed to celebrate.  It turns out my “short-comings” prepare my heart for Christmas in a way that a decorated house never could.

So fall on your knees.

Christmas is for the broken.

Pass it on.

No other version of this song is the same to me.  This is pure worship.

You can download it from here or buy the entire fantastic album here.

 

Today I have a lovely little round-up of Christmas cookie recipes for you!

 

honeyl

And, of course, some baking music for you!

“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” 

 

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies via  Bakers Royale

Red Velvet Snowflake Cookies, via Created by Diane.

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies, via Parent Pretty.

Oatmeal Cranberry Sandwich Cookies via Two Peas and Their Pod.

And finally, for a slight twist on a holiday classic, these Brown Butter Sugar Cookies via Better Homes and Gardens.

Have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe?  Pretty please do leave a comment or link below!

Thank you to everyone has commented or emailed your appreciation for this advent series.  I have had several readers ask whether I can put all of the music into one Christmas playlist to share- if you know a good program to use to do this, please let me know.  My first thought was playlist.com but it has been changed into a Pandora-esque online radio station.   Thank you!

“For the Beauty of the Earth,” by Barlow Girl from The Nativity Story

Wynn Christmas 2013 small

“I’m going home [for Christmas] to an old country farmhouse, once green, rather faded now, set among leafless apple orchards.  There is a brook below and a December fir wood beyond, where I’ve heard harps swept by the fingers of rain and wind.  There is a pond nearby that will be gray and brooding by now . . . there will be a little room upstairs over the prorch, where old dreams hang thick and a big, fat, glorious feather bed . . .  Oh, but I’ve left out the transforming thing.  There’ll be love there-faithful tender love, such as I’ll never find anywhere else in the world-love that’s waiting for me.  That makes my picture a masterpiece, doesn’t it, even if the colors are not very brilliant?”

-Anne Shirley from “Anne of the Island”my father's house small

I wrote this post 2 Christmases ago.  I thought there might be someone out there who would want to read it this week . . . Can you believe we are already into the third week of Advent?
“The Christmas Baby”

If you look at a pregnancy test long enough, turn it toward the light and squint your eyes, you can almost see that second pink line . . . even if it isn’t there.

I am convinced there are two types of women in this world: (1) those who are nodding their heads in complete agreement, and (2) everyone else.

I asked God for a baby for Christmas:  a baby the size of a grain of sand was my wish.  But the test was definitive. I turned it toward the light. I squinted. I could almost see it . . . but almost is not enough. In the place of a second pink line there was a space of white emptiness. Do you know that space?

I spent advent weeks considering that vast whiteness; reconsidering whether it was really, in fact, empty.  God whispered truth to my heart: I asked God for a baby for Christmas and the test said no, but God said yes.

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Two years ago, he said yes. And everyday since, I have felt his will in my little one’s grasp: “yes, beloved, yes.” Oh how I longed for my baby Wynn. How I long for him still. An hour apart is too long. And tonight I rock my toddler boy beside the Christmas tree. I drink in the smell of his still-baby skin. I nuzzle his sweet neck. And like the creak of the rocker on old wood floor, the benediction I hear again is “yes . . . ” (rock). . . yes . . .”(rock) . . . yes.”

I look up to twinkling lights of a cottage Christmas tree, to the place where a westward–leading star belongs. I rock and snuggle him. My heart in worship “yes . . .”(rock) . . . ” yes . . . .” (rock) . . . yes. . .

Two thousand years ago, so very long before I prayed for a Christmas baby, the Lord answered my prayer. So great is He. So faithful. He knew that I would need a baby.

And so He came himself.

I asked God for a baby for Christmas. Listen and hear how great our God is. If you are a captive, run to Him and be set free. Whatever you are waiting for, it has already come in Christ Jesus.

“Are you there, my Lord?” I breathe into my toddler boy’s neck. And I rock . . . “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel . . . ”

Yes . . .” (rock) . . .”yes. . .” (rock) . . . “yes . . . ”

Advent Music, Away in a Manger by Mindy Smith

He knows when we are sleeping.  { P s a l m   1 3 9 : 2  }

He knows when we are awake.  { P s a l m   1 3 9 : 2  }

He knows when we are “good” or “bad.”  { P s a l m  6 9 : 5  }

He gives the best gifts.  { J a m e s  1 : 1 7 }

He loves the little children. { M a t t h e w  1 9 : 1 4 }

We should be ready for him when he comes.  { 1  T h e s s a l o n i a n s  5 }

 

Advent Music:  Cradle in Bethlehm by Sara Groves  ( I love, love LOVE this beautiful song)

Advent Music:  In A Bleak Midwinter by Sarah McLachlan

lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding . . . Psalm 148:8

He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ Job 37:6

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.  Psalm 147:16

snow and winds

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