Oh, This {Wonderful} Time of Year

This time of year is filled with wonder and delight:
festivities, food and hearing from friends far & near.

????????{Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, Bacon & Pomegranate Salad from AAG cookbook}

????????{Peppermint & Chocolate Macaroons}

Lively songs and lovely lights fill the senses like no other month.
We bundle up for the cold and exclaim over dazzling, snow-glazed wonderland.

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christmas 5

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We keep secrets and gaze into children’s sparkling eyes.

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We read the Scriptures for our Jesse Advent Tree.
It’s a special time of catechism all month long . . .

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I don’t think I ever realized before how wonderful
a month of Christmas is for that reason alone.
Hearing the advent Scriptures read multiple times,
singing the truths in all of the carols,
acting out the story, reading the story . . .
and on it goes, til the children have it etched into their hearts.
It’s amazing how much their hearts grasp so young!

????????{Making our favorite gingerbread cutouts~recipe here}

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And still, in this month of festivity and celebration, life goes on and sin happens
and some suffer so greatly ~ even if it is Christmas.
I think of those in India who try to recover from the latest cyclone.
The American pastor who is imprisoned and persecuted in Iran.
The two young fathers {friends of friends} who passed away so suddenly & unexpectedly this month,
the young husband and father-to-be who fights for his life after a bugler’s act of violence.
December does not have the magical power to heal and fix these situations.
So many are aching and living through the darkest moments of their lives.

christmas 2{A December birthday for a certain three year old who lives and breathes princess-y things}

christmas 3{new dress up clothes and pajamas!}

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And I squeeze my people tight and breath deeply of this time of peace we’ve been given.
Oh, we have our little spats and first-world troubles just like anyone else.
It certainly isn’t perfect here in every sense of the word.
But, oh, we are living in happy days with our little family and know for certain
that it is a most precious and undeserved gift for this moment in our lives.
We speak often with gratefulness to the Lord and each other about these good days.
We aren’t guaranteed that it will always be so.

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The Jesus whose coming to earth we celebrate this season, however,
is the ONE we know we walk with now in these good days . . .
and will be OUR GOD in difficult days of the future.

I believe it’s this knowledge of Emmanuel~ God with Us~
that brings us the greatest joy and comfort during this season.

“A thrill of HOPE . . .
the weary world rejoices!”

For beyond the pain and suffering and sin-sickness around us,
we know a REDEEMER who came once and is coming again to make all things
new and right and beautiful and good. EVERYTHING.

A message at church several weeks ago blessed me so much . . .
The wondrous miracle of a glorious, almighty, all-powerful God,
whose robe fills the temple, who uses the earth as his footstool . . .
This ONE humbled himself to be born in humanity
so that He could dwell among us and show us the glory of God.
So that He could show us the way, the truth, the LIFE.
So He could pay the price for our redemption . . .

This is certainly the reason for the thrill of hope that causes us to sing and celebrate!

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So that the people who walked in darkness
might see a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined . . .

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

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This week I also read these verses in Habakkuk.
They challenge me to worship in the good times and the bad.
My heart echoes these words during this beautiful season . . .
desiring to be faithful to this Humble Christ Child & Mighty Lord,
in both good times and bad, and to  have a willing heart to do the Lord’s will
and to bless His name always~in much the same way that Mary also blessed God
when He sent His angel to tell her the news of Christ being conceived in her.

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“Though the fig tree does not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines;
though the product of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food;
thought the flock be cut off from the fold,
and there be no cattle in the stalls;

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will exult in the victorious God of my salvation!

The Lord God is my strength,
my personal bravery and my invincible army;
He makes my feet like hind’s feet, and will make me to walk
[not to stand still in terror, but to walk]
and make [spiritual] progress
upon my high places of trouble, suffering or responsibility.”

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And so it’s all of it . . .
the festivity and celebration,
the times with family and friends,
the mail that fills the box,
the lights and the snowflakes
the decorations and packages,
and all of the sweet treats too . . .

But most of all the STORY
and the HOPE.

The CHRIST who came to give us ETERNAL LIFE.

It really is a wonderful time of the year!
HE is the MOST WONDERFUL ONE in our lives.

Blessings to you and each of yours this Christmas.

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10 Responses to Oh, This {Wonderful} Time of Year

  1. Michelle December 20, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    These words are so life-giving. I love the gentle, Christ-centered way you are celebrating Christmas. And I love your thoughts about how the beauty of this season doesn’t heal all the weariness in the world currently. Because it doesn’t. But oh, how it offers hope! I’ve been thinking a lot about the words, “the weary world rejoices” the last few days. Just as there was so much darkness and weariness when people were preparing for Jesus birth, there is once again, so much darkness and weariness; but thank God we have hope and can rejoice again!

    • Shelly December 20, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      Thanks, Michelle. It really does feel like a restful month for us and a time to read and ponder and remember and look forward to CHRIST with HOPE! We have been at home night after night after night . . . one event was cancelled due to snow, another due to friends changing plans, and the one Christmas party we have planned is hosted at our house, so we don’t even have to go away for that. :) And we’ve been healthy so far, which is a huge blessing. The husband and I look at each other and smile, amazed at our own contentedness at living almost hermit-like month with our small family because how we certainly do love and have done our share of holiday STUFF in past years. But my size (!) and having littles and projects to work on makes home a very desirable place to be these days! (A season for everything!) All that to say . . . it’s fun to celebrate this season in various ways, but wow, how stress-free this one has been for us and we’re loving it.

  2. Clarita December 20, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I LOVE how you are celebrating CHRIST – not just the Christmas holiday. And how you are teaching your children to do that as well. It’s probably just me, but this year especially seems SO overdone with holiday preparation and busyness in so many people I know, and it exhausts me just looking at their lives! I love the rest that comes from your words… and resonates down deep in my heart too. A weary world REJOICES, a thrill of HOPE ~ sometimes I wonder if our world today feels a lot like two thousand years ago, but this time a groaning for the return of Christ. I am SO thankful for a Savior – how desperately this world and I need a Savior!

    Your pictures are UNREAL gorgeous. I am praying for snow when we come. :) Happy birthday to Sophia!! I missed her birthday – I have your other kids’ birthdays marked in my planner but not hers. She is just adorable, and her face speaks a thousand words. :) I loved getting to know her just a little bit more when you were here!

    Also, I think you are nearly world-famous for your gingerbread men. I have spread the word about it here just because everyone that tries them LOVES them so much. Right now I have two gigantic zits on my CHIN, and I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the many gingerbread men I’ve eaten. I simply cannot stay away from them, and I’m not normally a snacker. My goodness. :)

    Annnnnnd, does this posting mean you got an early Christmas gift?! :)
    Cannot wait to see you soon!!
    xoxo

    • Shelly December 20, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      Yes, I agree. What a weary world we live in . . . all creation groans together for HIS return! And yet, I am always amazed how much beauty and love and peace we experience in the midst of the weary groaning. It’s only because of His grace and mercy and Holy Spirit presence with us!!

      And yes ma’am. I’d definitely call it an early christmas gift. :) The Mr keeps saying he really feels like he’s not inspired with many gift ideas this year (’cause you know how he is always SO into gift giving) . . . and I just look at him and say that all the things I really wanted are a)replacements for broken things or b) finishing things in this house such as the basement carpet, tile, etc which he installed in the past two weeks. YAY! How can I even wish for more?? I feel rather expensive already. :)

  3. Beth December 20, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Beautiful post. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  4. Angie December 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I love this post! I hope you’re continuing to feel well! We enjoyed the Christmas party so much :) Thanks again & Merry Christmas!

    Love,
    Ang

    • Shelly December 30, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks, Angie! We so loved having the class here for the party! We’ll have to do it again. :) Thanks for coming!

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