What Christmas is Really About

I try to see it thru her eyes: the wonder of Christmas.

I try to shield her from the darkness in our world. The evil that would dare destroy innocent children during Advent.

She only knows what I’ve told her, her viewfinder is so narrow.

Time and space are still abstract in her 6 year old thoughts. She thinks hard and asks if I remember my first Christmas with her Daddy because 18 years ago is like 100 in her mind.

Yes! I say. And then she wonders aloud, “Was that the year Jesus was born?”

I smile and realize I look really good for my age, she is embarrassed at her question, but it gives me a greater glimpse into her understanding.  And I can’t tell her everything because I want to protect her as long as possible.

But we’ve made our lives about this Jesus. And momma? What is Christmas really about?

We tell stories, sing songs, read Scripture, light candles, we limit gifts, talk about His birthday, but what is Christmas really about? Her question pierces thru the annual visit to Santa, the stockings hung with care. It dims the twinkly lights and it begs me to answer.

Her question makes me question my own answers. Because I don’t have them for the horrifying events our world saw unfold in an elementary school last week.

I ask the same question.

What is Christmas really about?

I can’t shake the sadness that comes with the death of innocent children, the empty arms of parents, the evil of our world. The joy of the season has dimmed and my heart cries one phrase.

O Come Emmanuel

I try to describe the stable, the smells, the sacred moment when Heaven kissed earth. I try to shield my children from the darkness that makes no place safe. Our Pastor tells of the 400 years between prophecy and fulfillment.

The quiet.

The long waiting.

The expectancy.

The desperate world.

The longing for a Savior.

The evil men who threatened the unborn Messiah

The need for Him to come.

He was born into poverty, he was unwanted by this world, evidenced in his lowly stinking surroundings. His coming foreshadowed what was to come.

Jesus came 2000 years ago–just when the world needed Him. The earth held her breath in expectancy. Waiting, hoping.

We live in a world that has pushed him away, banned him. But He is still exactly what we need.

Our world cries out for justice, peace, for Him.

O Come Emmanuel.

And that’s what Christmas is about.

It’s a foreshadowing for us today. Because we desperately need Jesus to come again.

I pull her close and I whisper, praying it’s imparted in her soul. I try to protect my children from the darkness that seeks to destroy. I try not to be afraid of it myself. Jesus comes when we need Him most. He arrives when we can’t hang on another moment. He delivers us from the enemy, He rescues us from ourselves.

Christmas is about Him coming.

And it brings with it the great foreshadowing that He will come again.

O Come Emmanuel.

—————-

As our world grieves the Connecticut massacre, we hold fast to Jesus. I join millions of others, lifting up these precious families during this Holy season.

Coming to America

2013 is going to be an amazing year for Mercy House! God has revealed some big plans and we are excited. I’m still trying to figure out how to do all this, but I’m thankful God is my boss and He’s got this.

Maureen and I have so much to discuss and plan and I can’t describe how challenging it is to do so over Skype. She will be coming to America in January for a couple of weeks for meetings and a few speaking engagements to raise money and awareness for Mercy House. If you’re local to one of these venues, I hope you’ll come and meet one of the most amazing women I know!

{Click twice to enlarge} As these dates draw near, I will share more details. **Correction: the church is in Ft Mill, South Carolina (flying into Atlanta) Link above is correct.

My family is over the moon and we can’t wait to introduce her to Texas! I’m already making a list of fun things and restaurants to take her too. She’s excited about Chick Fil A and Tex Mex.

So, this conversation really happened yesterday over Skype:

Me: Is there anything specific you want to do while you’re in Texas?

Maureen: Like cow boots?

Me: {laughing} Maybe we can take you to a rodeo

Maureen: What’s a rodeo?

I hope that’s not like Six Flags NO ROLLER COASTERS.

This is going to be fun.

These precious babes will be in good hands with our staff in Kenya. Please pray for things to go smoothly during her trip to the USA.

She was approved for a one year visa, so this won’t be her first visit. (If you’d be interested in having her speak Fall 2013, email me).

Have a happy weekend before Christmas!

——————————-

Some stuff I wrote this week:

Redeeming Home

For the Tangles in Your Story

No One Told Me It Would Be This Hard

She returns from a long day of school and plops her too-heavy backpack on the counter, grabs a honey crisp apple and heads to her room. My table used to be her sanctuary, my presence her guide. But I hear her bedroom door close and I wonder at the other woman who lives upstairs and seeks solace rather than mother.

Her flute keeps her busy and now basketball practice and games. She babysits for family friends and studies in-between.

How did we get here so quickly?

She is growing up and I feel the world pulling her away.

My grip is loosening. She wants more freedom, I’m slowly learning to give it.

But no one told me watching your daughter become a woman would be so hard.

Or so beautiful.

Her little sister in her shadow, these two strong girls cut from the same strong mold, both turning a year older, one shadowing the other.

They are my daughters.

They take my breath away with their drama and demands one minute and I’m humbled by their love of others the next.

My youngest adding the Muslims of the world to her bedtime prayers and my oldest carries the burden of knowing the pain in our world…I see it when she questions if child slaves made her costume jewelry.

It’s hard fitting back into junior high girl stuff when your world has been expanded. We navigate these uncomfortable waters together. I’ve introduced my children to The Struggle (the one I wrestle with daily).  At 6, my little one doesn’t know any difference and I’m proud her heart knows no limits.

We do the mother daughter dance and we have good days and bad ones. We say things we regret in anger, we forgive in the quiet places. We live with passion because we don’t know another way.

I try to remember how my mom and I journeyed this road. I know why she cried when I left (and maybe rejoiced a little).

And rejoiced each time I returned (and maybe cried a little).

My baby reads now and has a wiggly tooth. She is hardly a baby, but when she brings me a book or asks me to pick out her clothes, I answer. Because she’ll go thru a period of not asking or liking my answers.

I let go of my daughters a little more every day.

Because I know they will return to me.

As my friends.

 

 

Fun Little Stocking Stuffer

My first book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! is on sale for only $2.99 on Kindle today.

 

You can also get a hard copy here for only $5.99!

Some nice things people have said:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your book! I finally ordered it a couple of days ago…(not sure what took me so long)…got it today and started reading while waiting the car line at school! I’ve already laughed (out loud) (to which my little boy asked why i was laughing) and cried! I can totally relate to what I’ve read so far! Thank you for sharing your stories…and for being real…” -Melissa

 

Don’t Make Me Come Up There”– makes me cheer! And it makes me get down on my knees and thank Jesus for this vocation of mothering. Because this book’s take on motherhood is with a fresh honesty, a deep humility, and always has Christ firmly at the center of it.

Each chapter can be read easily in one sitting (or standing at the stove, stirring soup :) by a mama of many. I’ve been picking it up right in the middle of it all — and it’s guaranteed to bring a smile of recognition (“I’m not alone!”)… (or flat out laugh.) And it’s guaranteed to encourage and turn a chaotic day to Him who really matters.

This book is making me laugh and it’s making me kneel and it’s making me love.
I can think of no higher compliment of a book for a mama down in the trenches — or at the bottom of the stairs :)” -Ann Voskamp

 

This product has helped me so much with my boys. I have a two year old and a 4 month old and there are so many times when I feel like I am failing as a mother. This book is perfect because it only takes a few minutes to read, cause we all know Mom’s dont have an hour to read their devotional, and it gives me so much encouragement. I highly recommend this book for all mothers (especially of little boys!). -anonymous

 

As a parent, I’m every Reading teachers nightmare. I hate to read! However, I sat down with this book at a point where I needed encouragement and needed to know I was not alone. I read through the entire book–twice in one day! I continue to read it about once a month and gain new inspiration for my parenting journey each time. I have also given it as a gift to several friends and used it as a give-away at our church on Mother’s Day. I appreciate Kristen’s perspective and transparency which helps me think I’m more “normal” than I thought, whatever “normal” is. I laughed til I cried and I cried until I smiled at the amazing way God has used this book to speak life to me. Thanks Kristen- for showing us that one person can make a difference, in our homes and in the world around us.” -Pam R

WFMW: Last Minute Christmas Deals from My Sponsors

-Hope for the Weary Mom:   The Kindle version of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess will be $2.99 on the 11th and 12th of December. Join the book club! Starting Jan. 7.

-One of my long time favorite companies (and advertiser), Show Off Arts is having a fun Christmas deal:

– The Vintage Pearl has an amazing assortment of READY TO SHIP silver stamped jewelry below. There’s a little something for everyone! Plus, use this code: watfam20 for 20% off til 12/15

– Union 28, my favorite t-shirt shop is featuring their new shirts, plus a great sale. Use code: U28TFK15 for 15% off your order.

– Don’t forget the Kitchen iPad Rack for the cook in the family. $5 of every purchase through Christmas goes to Mercy House!



It’s Christmas {Mandisa Giveaway}

UPDATE: The winner is comment #61! Congratulations, Tara.

Our tree is trimmed with the oh-so-classy theme of kiddie ornaments from the last 4 decades. My hubby and I have favorites from our childhood and my kids have carefully placed their “special” ones at eye-level. I just can’t do anything fancy or grown up. And all these people who have multiple trees HOW? It was all I could do to get one together.

But my tree does spin.

So, there’s that.

I bought the tree stand spinner when it seemed crucial one year to true Christmas happiness. Every year when my hubby drags it out and we roll our eyes at my silliness for buying something so unnecessary, he says, “I’m so thankful you were rescued from wealth.” But we have it, so we use it.

I sort of have a thing for Nativities too. I just love them. But besides the festive colors and twinkly lights, it’s the music that makes it really feel like Christmas in our house. I love Christmas music in the background of our busy life.

My new favorite Christmas album is by Mandisa, called It’s Christmas. It has an great selection, including the song Somebody’s Angel. Have you heard it? The movie footage in the video below is from the Gospel Music Channels original movie Christmas Angel that premiered this month. It will be playing throughout the Christmas season. This song is a simple reminder in a hectic time, to be somebody’s angel this year.

I know there are so many needs right around us if we’ll just look. I’m so excited about our family adopting a local single mom to secretly deliver gifts and groceries too.

I want my kids to feel the magic of Christmas, get something from their list and enjoy the wonder of it all. But more than anything, I want them to remember the reason we celebrate.

It’s Christmas.

It’s about Him.

Today, I am giving away Mandisa’s new Christmas album PLUS the Christmas Angel DVD and her entire collection of albums to one lucky winner:

What If We Were Real

Freedom

True Beauty

Remixed: Get Movin’

Leave a comment as your entry.

This giveaway ends Thursday. Winners are announced on giveaway posts once they close.

{Getting Ready for Christmas in Texas}

A cold front is on it’s way. We hope for frigid air in the morning to turn our 80 degree weather into winter.  But Texans celebrate Christmas in all kinds of weather.

We light our Advent wreath each night, share a thought and a verse and are keeping it simple this year, trying to make it about Jesus.

I took my little one to sit on Santa’s lap, a favorite tradition. I have 12 years of pictures of my kids with jolly old St. Nick and I love setting the frames out each year to see how much my kids have grown.

My big kids couldn’t resist this year and when Santa asked my son what Christmas was really about, my 10 year old boy answered confidently JESUS. It made this momma proud.

But then when I heard Santa respond, “you better believe it! If it weren’t for the gift of Jesus, Santa wouldn’t be.” I smiled wide and thanked God for good men who help spread the good news.

My vintage Santa nesting dolls were a garage sale find from years ago:

Kenya Christmas corner:

Ahhh….

I hope it’s starting to feel like Christmas in your house, wherever that may be.

Tell me where you live in the comments and your favorite Christmas tradition.

Linking up here and to The Nester’s! 

Let’s Talk About My Tattoo

I typed in we are that….into Google the other day, trying to bring up a prompt to my blog so I could check something while I was out of town.

Before I could type the word family, Google prompted me with a few suggestions that had been googled, a lot. I laughed at number one.

It was we are that family tattoo.

I’ve only written about it once and I closed comments because I’m a good girl and I didn’t want to open a can of worms. Here I am ten months post-tattoo and I’m still so happy I did it. I haven’t once doubted or regretted my decision. I do get a lot of email and questions about it, so I thought I’d just be open that can right up. Worms aren’t all that bad. Plus, I think my in-laws know about it now.

Here’s what I tell people: Don’t get a tattoo if you have doubts. And emailing me is probably proof of doubt. Don’t get a tattoo of just anything. So many people have written of their regret because their little turtle or butterfly tattoo has no significance. So don’t get one just because you think they are cool. It’s something you’ve got to know you want forever.

It will probably sound weird, but when my husband and I got our tattoo together on the two year anniversary of starting Mercy House, it was deeply significant and spiritual. I have no regrets!

But I will also never ever get another one. And not just because it hurt like a big dog.

I never intended to be branded by the Spirit in such a deep, life-changing way. I never intended to have a tattoo either. Some things are just unexpected and right for some people.

I think on the 3rd anniversary of my life-changing trip, I’ll get my nose pierced.

Just kidding, Mom.

So, would you ever get inked?

Want to see my husband’s tattoo? click here