The First Advent

hallelujahLast Christmas, I was just a little bit pregnant with my now big boy, Bennett. Last Christmas, he was just the size of a sesame seed, so said Babycenter.com. Last Christmas, the mystery of Christ’s coming as a human as tiny as my sesame seed really, really struck me. How profound, that the Creator of the universe so humbled himself as to enter the womb of a young Galilean girl some 2,000 years ago. I was brought to tears at the notion, as I rested my hand on my still-flat stomach and wondered what it was like to be Mary. Amazing. It completely blew my mind.

This Christmas, Bennett is four and a half months old, a whopping sixteen pounds, and already wearing 9-month clothes. He’s rolling over, albeit in secret so that Mommy and Daddy never actually see it happen, and he’s found his sense of humor. My husband and I are hilarious, in case you didn’t know. Bennett has changed our lives forever, and I’m in awe of the miracle of him every day. And this Christmas, I’m really, really struck by the mystery of Christ’s coming as an infant. God Almighty as a little infant. What a paradox: the One who knit Mary together in her mother’s womb looking delightedly up at her as she makes silly faces at Him. Giggling that adorable, spitty, gummy giggle that we all love. The Alpha and the Omega feeling hunger twist in His little belly, and rooting around anxiously to find Mary’s milk. The Savior of the world, the only Hope for mankind, developing little muscles under His baby fat and learning to roll over, much to the delight of His parents. Sprouting teeth and gnawing on Mary’s shoulder, soaking her clothes with saliva. Creator become created. A real human baby who needs baths and songs to fall asleep.  

I cannot fathom. What a woman, that young Mary. I’m delighted with each exciting milestone Bennett reaches, but there’s an undertone of sadness as I’m daily reminded that my little boy will one day very soon be a man — that I have precious little time with him. How much more weight those thoughts must have carried for the mother of our Lord.

So it’s not about Santa and presents. In fact, I very sincerely wish we didn’t do any of that. Santa gives gifts that will be soon forgotten and end up rotting in a landfill once the children outgrow them.

Christ gave His life.

That is a gift that impacts your eternity. The Advent — the entrance — of Christ into the world is what we should celebrate. It’s what we should and must emphasize. He is our only hope, and He is everything.

May you be struck by the true majesty and wonder of Christmas on this holy day. Merry Christmas, indeed!

Infinite, and an infant—eternal, and yet born of a woman—Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast—supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms—king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph—heir of all things and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Wonderful art thou O Jesus, and that shall be thy name for ever.
-Charles Spurgeon

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TDOT: Days Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, and Twenty-Seven

So, I haven’t been posting primarily because of the inconvenience. I have a million little, underlying reasons, but that’s the biggest one. If I had set out to share my daily thanks simply via Facebook status, like most rational people, then this wouldn’t be an issue. Instead, I decided to make a blog post every day.

It is impossible for me to write a blog post every day. Really. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Excuses aside, I have still been thankful! I just haven’t been blogging about it. Here is what I’ve been thankful for every day since I last blogged:

Saturday

  • My nephew turned 16! Thankfully, he can’t drive until next month when he takes his test. 😉 Happy birthday Brad!
  • My brother-in-law turned –! Once you get past 21, you don’t need to report it anymore. Happy birthday Matt!

Sunday

  • Homemade sushi! I hadn’t had sushi in forever — since before pregnancy a year ago — so I was super excited when my husband got a wild hair and decided he wanted to make some! He makes an awesome California roll! Nom nom.
  • I found out that my friend, Amanda, will be having her baby this week! I am SO excited to meet little Macy and squish her cheeks. Prayers for a safe delivery for momma and baby.

Monday

  • My Moby wrap again! Bubs has days where he just refuses to nap, which makes for a fussy Bubs, which makes for an irritated momma. It’s nice to be able to put him into the Moby where, if he doesn’t get a full nap, he can at least snooze happily for a while as I get a few things done. I can’t exactly do P90X while he’s in there, but I can do some things. Thanks again, Rebecca!
  • My beautiful tree that little Bubs helped me decorate Sunday, and that we’re now enjoying. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Today

  • Socks! It’s chilly.
  • The Gospel according to John. I love the literary beauty and theological richness that is chapter one, and I’m so glad that the Good Morning Girls Advent study has me meditating there today!

What are you thanking the Lord for today? 

TDOT: Days Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three

Yesterday, I was thankful for:

  • Turkey!!!!! Stuffing, mac ‘n’ cheese, rolls, smashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, pie, cake, ice cream, et cetera, et cetera… (For my baby’s nutrition, I am also thankful for roughly seventeen green beans and the one broccoli that I allowed on my plates at lunch and dinner. It was for him.)
  • Time spent with family. Since I have SO MUCH family, I didn’t get to see everyone, but I was thankful to see who I could this year!

Today, I’m thankful for:

  • NOT Black Friday shopping!
  • My husband being home! And organizing and cleaning my kitchen for me! What a great guy. I love his face! 
  • Dancing and singing Christmas music with Bubs in the living room, which is waaaaaay “funner” than shopping! He’s so excited for his first Christmas as a bigger-than-a-sesame-seed baby, and the music is so much easier to hear and enjoy on the outside of Mommy’s tummy! (And just wait until he takes a gander at our Christmas tree! Ooooh doggy, will he love that!)
  • Story time! We read three whole books on his floor before nap time. He loved it! Sweet Bubs. If he doesn’t end up liking to read, it won’t be for lack of my trying!

What are you thanking the Lord for today? 

TDOT: Day Two

You know what? I think that in some ways, modern Christianity is missing out. Let me qualify that, so I’m clear about my experience: modern, American, evangelical Christianity is missing out. On what? Holy days. Unfortunately, we’ve changed the spelling and turned them into holidays.

Our two big holy days are Christmas and Easter, and they are most worthy occasions for religious observation. Unfortunately, though, we fill one with reindeer, shopping, and cute family pictures to be mailed out in a yearly greeting, while the other is filled with bunnies, baskets, and new dresses. We smile sweetly at “8 lb, 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus — don’t even know a word yet, so cuddly, but still omnipotent” — and we paint purple crosses on our eggs, but are we really worshiping? Are we really observing a holy day?

No. We’re just having fun. You know, like going on holiday, as they say in the motherland.

Having fun is not bad, of course, but that’s all most of us are doing pretty much every moment in our lives that we get a choice about it. Even if we dutifully attend church services on Easter and Christmas, we’re just getting that out of the way so we can get on with celebrating — not Jesus, really — but our earthly pleasures. Gifts, eggs, new things, family — and food! Always lots of food. Turkeys, hams, macaroni and cheeses, deviled eggs, you fill in the blank.

All the while I notice that other religions have holy days. High holy days, in fact. Do they include food and gifts? Sure, a lot of times. But it sure seems like a lot of emphasis is still placed on the meaning of the holy day, which generally includes some version of worshiping and realizing their humble status before their deity, while we push out Jesus and replace Him with a bunny and a jolly man with a red nose. (Sad, since we made those up, while Jesus is Almighty God.)

This is why I’m claiming Thanksgiving. It’s a relatively untainted holiday, though I’ve been guilty of focusing too much on the (phenomenal) food and too little on actually being thankful. This year, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving all month. Hence, my Thirty Days of Thankfulness! And here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  1. I’m thankful for prayer. It’s mysterious how God is in control of all things, is the Creator of all things, and has already planned all things, yet our prayer can move His heart. I don’t understand it. He already knows what I need, yet He tells me to pray to Him. Why? Well, because He loves me. He wants to hang out with me. He wants my good, and He knows that if I pray to Him, if I worship Him, that it is good for my soul and it brings Him glory. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” John Piper always says. I’ve been most blessed recently through intercession, or praying for others. I think He commands us to pray for each other because it brings us closer together in community as we share our burdens, and because it shapes the intercessor’s heart to be more like His. I’ve been really thankful for that these past few weeks.
  2. I’m so thankful that I get to stay home with my little Bubs. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else; I’m exactly where God wants me right now, and I’m savoring every minute!

What are you thanking the Lord for today? 

A Late October Morning

Despite the thick, warm air hanging in the room, which keeps the house more than comfortable, an icy intruder makes me shiver. That unmistakable cold crouching close to the floor, creeping along the walls, crowding the windows, reminding me that summer is over and gone; the winter has come. S’mores and salted caramel hot chocolate and sweaters and boots and frosty noses and Christmas. Christmas is coming.

Christmas is coming! Crap! There are so many presents to buy. What could I possibly get for him; he’s impossible to buy for!? And last year I got that for her, how could I top that? Oh and she got me something last year, but I didn’t get her anything — what a terrible predicament! Now I need to get her something, but what if she decides that since I didn’t get her anything last year, then she doesn’t need to get me anything, and so then she’ll end up in the same predicament this year that I was in last year? Then what of next year? Will we both then decide not to get anything for the other, or will we both give, thus creating a gift-giving tradition for the foreseeable future? 

And what about family? When do we see whom? There’s my parents, and then my parents, and then his parents, and then coordinating everything with exes and when the children will be around. And don’t get me started on Santa… at least Bennett’s too young still to get into any fights with people about it. And, oh my gosh I’m not ready.

Summer is over and gone. But why? What happened to the hot dogs and happy hour strawberry limeades and spaghetti straps and flip-flops and flushed cheeks and the Fourth of July?

October.

That first month in Texas where the cool air breaches the borders at twilight and makes pumpkins grin. It’s over. We have one of the longest, hottest summers in the world, and still I mourn its passing every year because I know that Texas’ autumn is so short. Forget fall color; what didn’t already turn brown with the yearly drought will simply shrivel up, uncurl its fingers from its life-giving branch, and let go. And then Christmas.

But for a few more days, it’s October. Where you’re warm and cold all at the same time. And I sure love Texas in October.