Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.
By One Thing Alone How to Feel Awe and Wonder Again on Christmas Morning
In the middle of playing patty-cakes, my toddler stops short, awe and wonder written on her face, lips pursed in rapt attention, eyebrows knitted, finger stretched to the sky.
And then I hear it: a plane buzzing overhead.
A grin spreads wide across her face as the sound grows louder, her arm unwavering until the plane’s engines are drowned out by the hushed silence.
I chuckle with her dad as we lock gazes over her head.
“One day,” he says, “she’s going to get used to that sound. And she won’t care anymore.”
I nod, knowing he’s right, a mama’s sadness settling in. What wonder a little child holds for everything in sight, what thirst for noticing, touching, tasting, holding, listening.
I’m used to living next to an airport, so I rush through my day without hearing one airplane, let alone the dozens that fly overhead.
And it’s not just airplanes I don’t notice: it’s sparrow’s songs, daffodil’s colors, gorgeous sunsets, and children’s laughter.
Like an unimpressed teenager looking at a colorless prism, I discard the paperweight and rush on with my important business, while a toddler is more apt to pay rapt attention as she holds it up to the light and watches myriad colors dance on the walls, giggling with glee as all shades of the rainbow invade her space.
I yawn as I skim the passage, familiar with Jesus and the flannel-graph stories. I recite the details of the shepherds and the star, the wisemen and the manger as if they were a chemist’s report rather than a universe-altering miracle. I might even, in a moment of daft vulnerability, admit that I’m sometimes–dare I say it–bored with Jesus.
But don’t let that statement fool you for even a moment.
This says nothing about the magnificence of the Son of God.
It says everything about the calloused nature of a heart accustomed to Bible stories and safe Christianity.
When we allow God free access to our hearts, He changes them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, hearts that beat with spiritual life, hearts that warm at the very mention of Jesus’ Name, hearts that beat in sync with His.
When we allow God time with us, even in the busy season, we begin to see life with eyes wide open. We begin to notice the wonders all around us. We begin to see and savor Jesus Christ like we never did before.
And like a child with a glass prism, as we look more intently on Him, we will begin to notice even more beautiful layers to His character, more humbling displays of love, more lavishing acts of service. Our whole world will be bathed in the dancing colors of His Name. Everywhere we look we will notice Him.
And our hearts will beat anew with awe and wonder at the Name.
Don’t you just love this time of year? As soon as the turkey is cold, many people rush to the attic for the red and green boxes full of Christmas decorations. They tack lights to the eaves of their house and hang treasured ornaments on the branches of pine-scented trees. The smell of cinnamon and sugar plums rise from strategically placed candles. Ceramic Baby Jesus rests safely in an heirloom nativity on the entry table representing hope at Christmas.
Christmas decorating is not my specialty. My Christmas Pinterest board intimidates me. For starters, my house is small, leaving just enough room for a skinny Alpine tree, the kind usually found in groups of three because they are so puny. I don’t have a lot of surface area available for displays of Christmas villages and treasured nativities. We hang our favorite ornaments, set out the Fisher Price nativity, and call it a day.
This year, however, I got a vision while staring at my 1970’s fireplace. Large, dark gray stones are held in place by charcoal-colored mortar. The mantel piece is a dusty beam as dark as coffee. Since the chimney hasn’t been swept in our five years of residency, the fireplace is empty, void of any life (except maybe the unwelcome eight-legged variety).
My dark fireplace is a good representation of the condition of my heart. I feel the heaviness of the dark stones. I sense the cold of the empty firebox. Cobwebs of past hurts cling to the corners. Left untouched, I am without light, life, and hope.
I need light. I am desperate for hope.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shown. (Is. 9:2, ESV)
Jesus, the Light of the World, has come. He comes on beams of light, bringing hope to the darkness.
This is the message of the candle shining in the window and the star atop the tree. Hope calls out from the lights strung from rooftops making bright what was once lost in darkness.
When light is present, darkness cannot win. The glimmer of hope in our hearts means despair cannot get a foothold. Because of Jesus, sin and death are defeated.
The solution for darkness is light. The fix for our hearts is the hope Jesus brought with him to Bethlehem and fulfilled on the cross. With Christ, there is always hope.
I need this Advent season like a wildfire needs rain. The only cure for my dark heart is the One who brings light. The only answer for our hopelessness is Christ—the One who came and will come again.
The vision for my fireplace involves all things light—white containers, white branches, white candles, white lights. I want to break up the heavy stone with softness and fill the dark corners with light. It is quite a task for this decorating-challenged chick, but beauty waits on the other side of the effort.
What do you need this Christmas season? Whatever it is, that’s why Jesus came. He is our hope, our promise, our peace, our healing, our love, and our redemption. When the glimmer of Christmas lights catch your eye in the coming weeks, let that be a sign to you—a sign of hope for all that is and all that will be.
Yet, so often, we rush our way through the holiday season with little thought about Jesus, the gift of His life, or the significance of His love.
The wise men responded in immediate worship to the King. Matthew 2:10-11 says, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
We are called to “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness,” as it says in Psalm 29:2.
Remembering Christ does take diligence and awareness.
The season is busy, fast, and fun! So, set aside time now to develop meaningful traditions for the entire family.
Before the stockings are opened or the gifts unwrapped, before breakfast starts cooking or coffee is brewed, before anything happens on Christmas morning – start the day with family prayer.
What a way to align the mind to the true meaning of Christmas!
We’re quick to the gifts and the breakfast traditions, but we don’t seem to be as quick to pray or study the Bible. Try something different this year and start with prayer. You could even look up some Scripture passages to include in your prayer that specifically praise Jesus for the gift of his life.
Dear readers, I am not saying that we must forego the secular traditions, or wait until noon to open the first gift.
Rather, I am suggesting that we do some small things to include Jesus in each part of our day. Our lives have purpose and meaning because of his gift of love on the cross. This means our holiday has great meaning, too.
“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” ~Marjorie Holmes
The sound of travel thrills me. My earliest memory of this auditory obsession dates back to the early 80’s. I remember walking up and down the dirt drive in front of my grandparents’ old chicken house just to hear the gravel crunch beneath my Jordache sneakers. Besides listening to my grandmother read, it was my favorite thing to do at their house.
Back home, my ears soaked up the hiss and pop as I rode my bike over our bumpy, orange-colored chert drive. When I was old enough to ride the streets of my neighborhood, the hum of rubber on asphalt added to the thrill of the wind in my hair. At sixteen, I traded in my banana seat for a red Chevy Cavalier. I rolled my windows down to hear the tires crush the rocks on the dirt roads of my small town.
Even now, I find inspiration in the distant whir of jet engines passing over my house. I consider the hopeful travelers on board. Vacations, family, business deals, and discovered dreams wait on the other side of their journey. I recall the roar of the takeoff during my own airplane rides, each journey a memory of personal bravery.
The Christmas season is full of opportunities to listen as we travel. Be it by air, highway, or a walk down a well-worn path, we set out to celebrate the newborn King with family and friends. It is also the season to imagine the carol of traveling sounds playing around the characters of the nativity as they find their places around the manger:
The rhythmic clip-clop of donkey hooves on the road to Bethlehem.
The slap of leather sandals on the street as a husband desperately searches for a safe place to deliver a son.
The chorus of angels as the shepherds turn their flocks toward the stable.
The intermittent grunt of camels and jingle of golden coins as a caravan of wise men traverses the long miles.
One sound eludes my imagination. Close your eyes with me, and listen. We have to be stone-still to hear it. What does it sound like when heaven comes to earth?
The distance traveled exceeds human calculations. The barriers of time and space can’t confine it. The mix of joy and sorrow must be equally deafening and silent.
Jesus, both fully God and fully man, traveled from the splendors of heaven to rest his infant head on a bed of straw. Can you even begin to imagine the sound in his ear as he made this journey?
The Father’s assurance that this is the only way to save the creation they love.
The two-part angel choir, praising his majesty and mourning his fate.
The hiss of the enemy’s lies—his best effort to stop salvation’s plan.
The cries of his mother as labor and love push him toward his destiny.
The sobs of those who bow before his cradle, relieved and humbled by the Messiah sleeping in front of them.
My heart can’t take what my ears imagine. It’s too much for me. But it was never too much for Jesus. He heard it all, and he came anyway. When the sounds of suffering surrounded him as he ministered, he moved toward them. When the scraping of wood followed him as he carried the cross, he put one foot in front of the other. The grinding of a rolling stone reminded him that he was almost home. Finally, the song of the angels’ rejoicing found his ear as he took his place beside the Father once again.
Father, thank you for sending your Son on such a courageous journey. We cannot fully imagine the sounds Jesus heard as flesh wrapped around holiness. Today, we join the sounds of heaven and raise our voices in worship. Jesus, we love and adore you! Thank you for giving us the gift of your life.
Scripture for Reflection
“All of this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means God with us).” (Matthew 1:23 ESV)
“Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” (Psalm 89:14-16 KJV)
“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” (Revelation 5:13 ESV)
Reach for More
Jesus’ journey was motivated by his love for us. As you travel this Christmas season, take the time to listen to the carol of traveling sounds. Allow those sounds to be your cue to thank Jesus for making the trip from heaven to earth and back again.
Please come back and leave a comment telling us about your traveling sounds, or share your progress on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you.