Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: christmas

When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating Christmas

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Not gonna lie: this time of year is hard for us. And we’re not the only ones. A lot of people feel the exact opposite of jolly during the Christmas season, for many good reasons. Some are coping with grief and loss. Some struggle with loneliness or depression. Some are simply worn out, run ragged by overstuffed schedules and the pressure of meeting high expectations. It can be hard to feel like Christmas is worth celebrating.

For my husband and me, December brings the anniversaries of both our first miscarriage and his mother’s unexpected passing. It’s also a rather in-your-face reminder of our inability to have children. While those initial losses are still painful, enough time has passed to wear away much of the sting. It’s the pain of continued childlessness that is the hardest to endure.

Pregnancy loss and infertility doesn’t just bring grief over what was lost, but also over what might have been, and that latter grief stays fresh. It’s renewed with every anniversary, every due date that comes and goes that should have been a birthday, every time you’re confronted with family, friends and neighbors having and raising children. At Christmas, it’s renewed with every sighting of Santa, every lighting of the tree, every animated Christmas special. It’s renewed when you hang stockings for your pets knowing that no matter how crazy you are about your fur babies they’ll never take the place of an actual child. There’s no getting away from the fact that Christmas is about children.

But when you strip all of that away, you’re reminded that in actuality, Christmas is about ONE child.

ONE little miracle baby who was born into the world to bring healing, restoration and peace.

Thankfully, that baby didn’t stay a baby forever. He grew up to become the Savior of the whole world.

That child-turned-Savior is the only One that can fill the hole in my heart left by the children I’ve lost and am still waiting and hoping to have. He’s the only One that can turn our grief and turmoil into joy and peace.

Whatever it is that defines your hard this season, Jesus can do that for you, too.

And that is something worth celebrating.

Blessings,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

The Meaning of the Manger

Christmas nativityI posted a link to this lesson a couple of years ago after it first aired, but our church replayed it this weekend and it’s worth linking to again. It’s our pastor discussing some little known historical facts about Christmas and the nativity. It’s about 40 minutes long, but the pertinent section starts at about the 15 minute mark, and if you have time I recommend giving it a watch.

For those who don’t have time, here’s the tl;dr version of the part that stood out to me: Jesus wasn’t born in some random stable and placed in any old manger. At the time of his birth, Bethlehem was the main center of the sheep-rearing industry that had grown up around the Jewish sacrificial system. All of the lambs that were used in the temple offerings in Jerusalem were bred and born in Bethlehem.

When it came time for a ewe to give birth, the shepherds would bring her to the tower of the sheep, a structure with a stone manger that served as a birthing center for the lambs. When a lamb was born, they would quickly swaddle it in strips of cloth and lay it in the manger to keep it calm and still until they could finish up with the mother and then examine the lamb to make sure it met the criteria for the sacrifice–being without any spot or defect.

It’s believed that this is the manger Jesus was laid in, wrapped in the same strips of cloth that were used to wrap the newborn lambs. It’s also likely that the shepherds that the angels appeared to to announce his birth weren’t random shepherds, but the same shepherds who watched over the official flock and oversaw the birth of each lamb.

Why did this lesson touch me so? Because it shows that God is not random. Just look at the care to detail He showed in arranging the birth of His Son — the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be redeemed once and for all.

And guess what? God cares just as much about the details of our lives–yours and mine. Nothing He allows into your life is random. Everything serves a purpose, and nothing escapes His notice or is beyond His care.

This Christmas, let’s remember how much God loves us, and let that reassure us how very much in control He is, and how very much He cares.

Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas,
Jean

 

Still Alive

I have made myself miserable. I’m not saying this to whine, but as an impassioned plea to my future self to please do a better job next year of refraining from gluten and dairy-based treats. All of the cheese and butter and eggnog and cream and gravy and such that I’ve been eating lately is wreaking havoc on both my digestion and my PCOS, and all the bread, rolls, biscuits, cookies, stuffing, and other gluten-laced deliciousness has caused my energy levels to flat line. Now we just need to be sure we’re rid of all the Christmas leftovers by New Year’s Day so we can both get back on track and start feeling healthy again.

Between the self-induced misery of holiday eating habits, seasonal affective disorder brought about by the fact that the sun has only been seen here about three times in the last two weeks, and ongoing frustration with the insurance company regarding our totaled truck, I haven’t been feeling very sociable lately. My freelance work slowed way down by the end of last week, so I’ve been taking the opportunity to enjoy a vacation from any type of computer work (besides, I had a ridiculous amount of knitting and crochet I had to get done before the big day) and recharge my mental batteries — hence my absence from the blog and scant appearances on social media.

Despite all of that, though, we had a lovely Christmas. We stayed home and stayed in our PJs and just hung out with our four-legged “kids,” enjoying and celebrating our own little family while marathoning a Christmas movie roster that included Scrooge, A Christmas Story, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Yes, those are too Christmas movies.

The bulk of all that frantic knitting and crochet was for the furbabies. Pete got a new sweater and a knitted plush bone squeak-toy in his stocking, and the cats got a new bed and a door hanger bouncy cat toy in theirs. Matilda the box turtle got left alone to sleep, which is, I’m sure, what she preferred.

In addition to books, warm comfy pants and a nice bottle of Scotch (a present to himself), Matt also got a replica of the scarf Jeremy Brett wears in the old Granada Sherlock Holmes series, which is the other thing I was frantically trying to finish on time. I failed, but mainly because I ran out of yarn. I need to add at least two more balls of yarn before the length is right. Still, Matt said it’s his favorite present. *beams and twirls*

As for me, so far I’ve gotten books and chocolate, which is enough to make me happy. Besides finally getting the most recent Dresden Files novel and the illustrated trade paperback version of The Dark Tower: Book VII, Santa/Matt also got me a copy of The Little House Cook Book, which is my favorite so far (sometime soon I will have to talk to you about my new Little House obsession). I hope it will teach me a few old-timey skills that I can incorporate into my zombie plan. I’ll also be getting the new Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography, Pioneer Girl, once Amazon gets it in stock, and I’m kind of chomping at the bit to read it.

In other news, we’re still waiting for State Farm to settle up and pay us for the truck, going on over two weeks now since we reached a settlement agreement. First we were supposed to be able to pick up the check the Friday after settling, and then for some mysterious reason that got pushed to Wednesday of the following week, and then the State Farm office where we’re supposed to pick it up and sign over the truck still hadn’t received it and nobody had an explanation as to why and we haven’t heard anything from them since. On the bright side, at least the insurance adjuster finally stopped giving us deadlines to return the rental car that Matt kept having to call and extend, and just told us to keep it until we get the check and can finish making our Aveo road worthy. Whenever that will be. I’ve given up on expecting it to happen this year.

And now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a magic cookie bar calling my name in the kitchen. Hey, I can’t very well expect the husband to polish off all those leftovers by himself. That wouldn’t be fair to him, now would it?

How was your Christmas this year?

Not enough of me to go around.

I have been falling down on the blog, and I’m not sure yet when I’ll be able to get back into a regular posting routine. We’re still dealing with fallout from our accident, and it’s ridiculous how much of our time that keeps eating up. We’re behind on just about everything, including Christmas; we just got the decorations put up this weekend, and we haven’t even started our shopping yet. I’m just hoping we can get around to that before all the stores are too picked over to find what we want. Add to that some issues with our plumbing, and I just don’t have time for regular blogging–or noveling, for that matter, which quite the source of bother.

So anyway, the insurance company decided to total the truck. We went to the repair shop this morning to be sure we got all of our personal items out of it, and that was a surprisingly emotional time as we said goodbye. We had a lot of good memories tied up in that little truck. So now we’ve got a week left to get our Aveo operational before we have to give back the rental car we’ve been driving. Since it hasn’t been running, we haven’t been insuring it, so we’ll have to get insurance and a new tag put on it, too.

I tell you what, this is sure turning out to be a lot of hassle for what was a relatively minor wreck that wasn’t even our fault. On the bright side, at least now we can afford to get the Aveo fixed.

And of course the other thing keeping me busy is that I’ve got steady freelance editing and e-book formatting work coming in, so that’s another thing to be thankful for.

In other news, I haven’t been doing very well at sticking to my gluten-free diet, and as such my energy levels have severely tanked. I guess I can take that as confirmation that avoiding gluten really is good for my thyroid and the extra energy I had wasn’t just a placebo effect. Now if I can just stop being tempted by all this holiday food… oh look, cookies!

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We’ll be having a quiet, homemade Christmas at home, just the two of us and our pets and more food than two people should eat, relaxing in our jammies and watching Christmas movies (…what do you mean, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard aren’t Christmas movies?).

In the meantime, I invite you to listen to this special Christmas message from our pastor (MP3). It contains some new insight into the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth that kind of blew my mind.

Here’s hoping you and yours have an equally peaceful and satisfying Christmas!

Emergency Gift: Easy DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Easy DIY Wool Dryer BallsI cannot believe we’re only a week away from Christmas! I’m so not ready! As much as this year seemed at times like it would drag on forever, in the end it really flew by, and Christmas has snuck up on me.

Hopefully, you’re more prepared than I am, and all of your shopping, crafting and DIY-gift making is done. But just in case it’s not, here’s a great last-minute DIY gift idea: homemade dryer balls.  Continue reading

28 Frugal and Natural DIY Holiday Ideas (Link Roundup)

28 DIY Holiday IdeasIf you’re anything like me, you’ve grown weary of the rampant materialism of the Christmas season. You might also not have a lot to spend, so you couldn’t participate even if you wanted to.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ideas and possibilities for giving meaningful gifts that don’t cost a lot to make and, in a lot of cases, make use of stuff you already have. Whether you’re looking for gifts for loved ones, ideas for expanding your Christmas decorations without expanding your budget, or even some relaxing gifts you can give yourself to maintain your sanity this season, I’ve been collecting links along these lines all year (thanks to Pinterest), and I’ve rounded them up to share with you.  Continue reading

A Very Bauhaushold Christmas

[Cross-posted to Daydream Believer]

We had already decided to stay home for Christmas. The original plan was to go to my mom’s house, but I realized that it’s hard enough for us to be around babies and small children right now without having to force Christmas cheer on top of it. I know I have to get over that some time, not the least of which because I love and miss my wee nieces and nephews; but neither of us had any desire to spend Christmas day pretending to be happy when the constant reminder of what we lost meant we were both dying a little inside. And so, we didn’t have to suffer disappointment when we ended up being snowed in on Christmas day, anyway.

It was a lovely, peaceful day. I woke up before Matt and spent the morning in quiet reflection as I read the accounts in Matthew and Luke of Christ’s birth and the events leading up to it. It was nice to be able to take the time out and remember what the day was really about, instead of rushing to get out the door. Then, after a prayer of gratitude, I fired up A Christmas Story and settled in to wait for Matt to get up.

Once he did, it was present time. First we gave the pets their stocking goodies, and much cuteness abounded:

Continue reading