There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas

Traditions help make holidays special. We look forward to the things we “always” do, the seasonal foods, events, activities, decorations.

But as busy as everyday life is, adding in all the holiday extras can increase pressure. Every year brings tips about managing Christmas. But this year I have seen a new emphasis, calling for a more minimalist approach to the holidays: less spending, less decorating, less going and doing.

Most of us truly appreciate finding ways to reduce pressure. We shouldn’t keep doing things just because that’s what we’ve always done. It might be best to discard traditions that have become burdensome rather than joyful or rotate some so that we’re not overwhelmed.

But some of the posts I have read on this topic cause me to fear a new judgmentalism, a looking down on those who don’t do less.

If a minimalist approach appeals to you, that’s fine. But the person who enjoys putting out all 32 pieces of a Christmas village because she loves the way they look and she remembers the people who gifted her with the pieces one by one through the years shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

What everyone does for Christmas depends on how many people are in the family, how much time, energy, and money is available, personal preferences, etc.

One person likes to put out just a handful of decorations. Another likes to display every Christmas item she has accumulated for 30 years or put trees of various sizes in every room.

One family’s Christmas dinner might look like any other meal, with the exception of pumpkin pie for dessert. Another likes to go all out with special dishes for the season.

One family prefers no gifts or a gift to a charity in their name. Another saves up for months or shops all year for gifts.

Some like to hit all the Christmas performances and events they can. Others prefer quiet nights at home by the fire with hot chocolate and Christmas movies. Most of us are somewhere in-between.

None of these is wrong one way or the other.

Most of us find that some traditions change through the years. We’ve added some and discarded others over time. We made Christmas cookies when my sons were young. Then one year we just didn’t get to it – but no one seemed to notice. We have so many sweets that time of year, we didn’t suffer for not having cookies. But with a young grandson now, it’s fun to revive that tradition. We used to do a birthday cake for Jesus mainly for the kids to remember Whose birthday it was. But in later years we stopped. One year we had an elementary Christmas piano recital on Monday night, a high school piano recital Tuesday, church on Wednesday night, an elementary school Christmas program Thursday night, and a high school Christmas program Friday night. That week was probably bookended by Christmas cantatas and children’s Christmas programs at church on Sundays. Talk about exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Thankfully our church and school adjusted their calendars after that. But in those years of so much to attend, we didn’t go to many community events. Since our kids are grown, we have been able to venture out and try a few new things. Some have laid aside the tradition of Christmas cards and family newsletters, but I will determinedly keep sending them as long as I can because I enjoy both sending and receiving greetings

The point is, there is no one right way to celebrate Christmas. We have to be careful that we don’t impose the solutions we find for our family onto everyone else. It’s up to each family or individual to assess all the factors involved and decide what works best.

We can commemorate the birth of our Savior in many ways. Let’s not judge each other on how we do it. Let’s just each work on keeping the focus of Christmas where it ought to be: remembering that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday,Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

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Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest list of good reads found online recently:

Should Christians Abandon Christmas? HT to Challies. “When churches ‘ignore’ Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation?” “The abuse of something shouldn’t be allowed to destroy its proper use.”

On the Death of John Allen Chau. Good points all, especially the first one: “We don’t need to rush to judgment.”

3 Internet Accusations Against Missionaries, HT to Challies.

Singleness Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, HT to True Woman.

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to True Woman.

Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant, HT to Challies. Good advice for writers and teachers, too.

The 50% Lie, HT to Challies. Turns out it has never been true that 50% of marriages end in divorce, by any way of measuring. “Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness about marriage and divorce if we began to say ‘Most marriages last a lifetime’ [8 out of 10] rather than ‘Half of marriages end in divorce.'”

Why J. I. Packer Reads Mystery Novels (Or, In Defense of Light Reading), HT to Challies. “Light reading is not for killing time (that’s ungodly), but for refitting the mind to tackle life’s heavy tasks (that’s the Protestant work ethic, and it’s true).”

And finally, a smile found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

Literary Christmas Reading Challenge

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Tarissa hosts the Literary Christmas Challenge in December: actually, it started in November, but I like to hold off on Christmas reading til after Thanksgiving. The main rule: read Christmas books! And link up your posts about them (via a blog, Goodreads review, etc.).

Here’s what I am planning to read this month:

Finding Christ in Christmas by A. W. Tozer (99 cents for the Kindle app as of this writing. Tozer always makes one think.)

Tozer Christmas

Homeless for the Holidays by P. S. Wells and Marsha Wright.

Homeless

Christmas Stitches by Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, and Stephanie Grace Whitson. I’ve read many of Judith and Nancy’s books, so I am looking forward to this Christmas collection.

Stitches

Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

Cold Outside

I’ll Be Home For Christmas: Four Inspirational Holiday Novellas by Lenora Worth, Belle Calhoune, Jill Kemerer, and Allie Pleiter. This is not showing up on Amazon anymore, but you can read more about it on Goodreads here. I’ve not read any of these authors, but I used to follow a blog that Lenora contributed to, so that’s probably what prompted this purchase.

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If I should finish all these and I’m not tired of Christmas stories at that point, I’d love to get Terri Blackstock’s Catching Christmas and Michelle Griep’s Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series, Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor and A Tale of Two Hearts. I’m trying to read what I have already accumulated through sales before I add any more.

And that’s it for this year! Do you plan to do any Christmas-themed reading this month?

Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts

Today is the first “back to the old routine” day in a while. I love all the holiday activities, and God was kind to grant me some pockets of quietness and rest amid the busyness. Getting out of the normal routine for several weeks was fun and refreshing. Getting back into it feels both good and sad at the same time. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family home and then a very quiet but enjoyable New Year’s Eve and Day.

I thought I’d show you the Christmas cards I made for the family. I buy boxes of them for extended family and friends – I’d never be able to make as many as I send out – but for our own family I like to make individual ones.

This is Jim’s:

Jim Christmas 17

It doesn’t show up in the photo, but the white words are flocked. If I had been thinking, I would have cut off the bottom pine cone so more of the word Noel showed up.

This is Jeremy’s:

Jer Christmas 17

Sometimes ideas come from others I’ve saved on Pinterest, sometimes from something in the Cricut design space, and sometimes they come as a result of looking over the materials I have. This one started out with the fox sticker, as Jeremy likes foxes, and then the other elements came one by one. This is one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made.

This is Jason’s:

Jason Christmas 17

I had wanted to use blue because he likes blue, and I had also wanted to use the snowflake embossing folder on one, so those came together here.

This is Mittu’s:

Mittu Christmas 17

I love that cozy sweater background paper, and they love coffee, so these seemed like a good pairing. The cups were done with the Cricut.

This is Jesse’s:

Jesse Christmas 17

This started with the word sticker – that just seemed to fit him. Everything on the white part is a sticker.

This is Timothy’s:

Tim Christmas 17

I had seen the cookies on a cookie sheet idea on Pinterest, but the shapes on it were three of the same gingerbread men. As I looked through my scrapbook paper, I found one with these gingerbread figures on them, so I cut them out. Thankfully I had enough of a scrap of the metallic paper for the cookie sheet. 🙂

This is Jim’s mom’s:

GG Christmas 17

And this was for Jim for our anniversary:

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Other stray thoughts this morning:

  • We had turned on the TV New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball drop, and I commented that I always wondered how they did bathroom issues in Times Square during that event. I envisioned a long row of port-a-potties somewhere. Jeremy looked it up and said there are no port-a-potties – and businesses don’t let the crowds come in to use the restrooms. And some people are there as early as 8 in the morning! They also don’t allow backpacks or large bags, don’t allow people to sit down, and they kick out the food stands to make more room for people. I looked up a couple more articles this morning (here and here). I never had aspirations to go to this anyway, but it’s definitely on my “Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do this” list – which is guess is the opposite of a bucket list. 🙂
  • I’ve rediscovered cheese and crackers as a snack. My mom used to always send Swiss Colony cheese and sausage packages for Christmas until the kids all got older and it got too expensive to send them. But usually one of us gets a Hickory Farms package at some point during the Christmas season. This year we opened it on Christmas Eve. Then I had mentioned earlier that somehow we got started having the Chicken in a Biskit and Easy Cheese during the holidays, so I have enjoyed munching on them all month. They may not be the healthiest snack, though – especially the Easy Cheese – so I probably need to find a better salty snack.

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  • One of the things I miss most about putting Christmas decorations away is the lights. But not enough to keep any up year-round.
  • I’ve also enjoyed several weeks of Christmas music. I got a new Christmas CD this year, Worship the Newborn King from the Wilds Christian camp. I especially loved the Candlelight Carol. I’ve loved that for years but rarely hear it. Other long time favorites have been their Christmas With Friends album (although that doesn’t seem to be available any more) and Sacred Music Services’ King of Glory. I also like some of Pentatonix – not the more raucous stuff, but I especially like their versions of Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mary Did You Know, and others in that vein.
  • I don’t make resolutions per se, but I do like to make reading plans for the year and map out some projects I want to work on, so I hope to do that this week. I like to incorporate some purposefulness in my reading but with some flexibility in case I come across something new I want to read during the year. I hope to have my reading plans posted in the next day or two.
  • Also this time of year you see a lot of people writing about words for the year. I’m not sure how that got started. A lot of people derive great blessing from it, and that’s great. Personally I have never felt led to do so. Usually God has more than one word to work on in my life at any given time. 🙂 But can I say, if you feel stressed about choosing a word for the year or guilty because you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Seek God about it, and if you sense His leading toward one area of concentration, then go for it, but if not, just seek Him in His Word and seek His will every day.
  • This is also a good time of year to find a good Bible reading plan if you haven’t already. I wrote on that extensively here. There are all kinds available. Probably the best plan is one you’ll actually use. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good thing for several reasons. A Christian radio station I listen to reads through the Bible throughout the year during daily 15 minute segments, not really too difficult for anyone. The last few years I have continued to read the complete Bible, but not in a year. I am not sure how long it takes me. I aim for a couple of chapters a day, but vary it according the the length, difficulty, or density of the passage I am in and whether I want to stop and slow down in certain passages.

And now I had best get on to some of that daily routine that needs attending to. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

(Sharing with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer)

Laudable Linkage

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Just a few this week, but since some of them had to do with Christmas themes, I thought I’d go ahead and share them.

How God Used A Christmas Carol to Resurrect Literature in My Life. “People can be tempted to think that books are meant to take us away, meant to give us a mental holiday from our lives, but that is not true. Great books, living books, are not meant as an escape from life, but a passage into life.”

Who Were the Magi?

What’s the Difference Between Lament and Complaint? I’ve wondered about this, so this was timely for me.

4 Reasons Every Church Needs Senior Saints, HT to Challies.

End of Year Evaluation. This is not a recent one – I’ve had it in my files for years and think about doing it but haven’t yet. I have trouble choosing superlatives and tend to over analyze all of that. My friend Susan isn’t actively blogging currently, sadly, but thankfully she has left her old posts online.

I mentioned recently that Phil Vischer’s Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables was on my top 12 books read this year. I recently discovered this video of a speech he gave which is kind of a condensed version of the book. It’s fun at first because he does some of the different characters he voices in the Veggie Tales programs. But then he gets to the meat of the matter. Personally I don’t care for the phrases about God “showing up” and calling Jesus “the Big Guy,” but if you can look past that, this is well worth the 56 minutes.

Happy last Saturday of the year!

Laudable Linkage

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I don’t usually post these two weeks in a row, but I came across a number of good reads this week!

Answering Claims That the Bible Contains Errors, and Why It Matters That It Doesn’t, HT to Challies.

What Expository Preaching Is Not, HT to Challies.

God Has a Heart for the Vulnerable. Do you?

Feel the Love

Doing Church Away From Church Isn’t Church, HT to Challies.

Nine Questions to Ask Yourself to Prepare for 2018, HT to Challies.

100 Years. 100 Million Lives. Think Twice, HT to Challies. I’ve been quite alarmed in recent months to see young people lauding communism. “For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.” “Communism cannot be separated from oppression; in fact, it depends upon it. In the communist society, the collective is supreme. Personal autonomy is nonexistent. Human beings are simply cogs in a machine tasked with producing utopia; they have no value of their own.”

On Leaving Jerusalem. “While the media is great at capturing events, they are not so great (or so interested) at capturing context or proportion.”

Living Out Our Faith. Great ways to serve the Lord as a family.

Crying in Home Depot at Christmas.

Lastly, I don’t know anything about the speaker here or the film he talks about, so this is not an endorsement, but a friend shared this on Facebook and I found it interesting. I had never heard what he shared about the significance of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes before.

Happy next to last Saturday before Christmas!

“Managing” Christmas

We look forward to many enjoyable Christmas activities and traditions. But when we add them to an already-packed schedule, stress rises. We can feel frantic and pressured rather than enjoying the season. Who has time for a quiet moment to ponder the meaning of it all?

Though I am not an organizational expert, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

Start early. Some people shop all year for Christmas. That doesn’t work for everyone – they might not have the storage space, or desires might change over the year. It’s been a big help to me to buy Christmas cards fairly soon after they first come out, usually in November before Thanksgiving. I can find a good selection at a discount store then, whereas later they’ll be picked-over. The last few years, we’ve asked for everyone’s “wish lists” by Thanksgiving week, and by taking advantage of online sales that week, we’ve gotten the bulk of our Christmas shopping done then.

Evaluate traditions. Composer Gustav Mahler said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” Traditions are lovely ways to enhance a season and create family memories, but sometimes they become a burden rather than a blessing. I recently read of a family whose mom/grandmother had passed away. The first Christmas afterward, someone made the special dish that she had always made for Christmas dinner. But then they realized that none of them really liked it, and there were other, better ways to remember their loved one.

Involve the whole family. We always decorate the house for Christmas together as a family. My husband and I divide up the shopping. The kids help clean the house.

You don’t have to go to everything. School programs and recitals, special things going on in town, get-togethers with various groups all add to the fun but also the time constraints. Unless you like being out a lot, choose the most meaningful things for your family and forget the rest. Or rotate what you attend from year to year.

Some activities can be scheduled outside of December. Some people do their annual Christmas family newsletter around Thanksgiving or just after New Year’s rather than at Christmastime. We had one Sunday School class that scheduled its class party in January rather than December, both to relieve everyone’s December calendars and the church facility usage, and give us something to look forward to in January.

Put off what can be put off. In addition to what was mentioned in the last point, December is not usually the time for massive organizational or home projects. I also try not to schedule doctor’s or dentist’s appointments in December unless it can’t be helped. By the way, you might be thinking of getting appointments or procedures in before the end of the year if you’ve already met your deductible so that you’ll pay less. Check with your insurance about when their year starts and ends. We just found out a few months ago that our insurance company counts our year not from January to December, but from December through the following November, so December expenses count for the new year, not the current one.

Take shortcuts. It’s ok to buy pre-made cookie dough or even bakery or restaurant items rather than making everything from scratch for every activity or gathering. I store my mini Christmas trees (some maybe 10 inches tall, some about 2 feet) with the decorations on in their own containers, so when I put them up, all I have to do is fluff them out a little and put back on any decorations that fell off rather than decorating each from scratch each year. (If you have extremely fragile ornaments, that might not work).

Acknowledge changes in circumstances and seasons. A friend grieved one year because she was in the hospital with a kidney infection Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She felt she was “ruining” Christmas for her family. Since nothing could be done about the circumstances, it would have been a good time to teach her kids to adapt. Maybe families could turn such times into something fun for the kids in some way (maybe Dad bringing doughnuts for Christmas breakfast in the hospital room, opening stockings there and saving the big presents for later, etc.). Another friend’s husband was in prison over several Christmases, another was homeless one Christmas. Some people get stranded in airports or can’t make planned trips due to bad weather. Though these things are sad and frustrating, they can’t be helped. It’s best to make the best of it in some way. And it’s funny how those “different” Christmases are the ones that we sometimes remember the most. On the other hand, some Christmases are filled with grief, and it’s ok not to be into the ‘frothy” aspects of the season. Also, as the family grows, or decreases when kids move out, the different things you do as a family might change. We used to get Christmas presents for all the siblings, then their spouses. But our giving decreased as families grew. Empty nesters might not do all the decorating they did when kids and grandkids were home for the holidays.

Find ways to focus on the meaning of the season. There are Advent Bible reading plans online that incorporate OT passages prophesying the Messiah’s birth as well the familiar NT passages about Christ’s birth and other applicable NT passages. I’ve been blessed by focusing on one Christmas devotional book in December. Some I’ve read are (linked to my reviews):

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas compiled by Nancy Guthrie, containing sermon excerpts or essays from as far back as Augustine and as current as Tim Keller.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent by Nancy Guthrie is geared for family usage, but I enjoyed reading it by myself as well.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs.

From Heaven: A 28-Day Advent Devotional by A. W. Tozer

I’m currently reading a new one, Gospel Meditations for Christmas by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, and Michael Barrett. I’m only a third of the way into it, but it’s good so far. I have enjoyed others in the Gospel Meditations series that I’ve read.

Don’t expect perfection. I wrote about our idea of a “perfect Christmas” a few years ago and compared it to the first Christmas. Traveling while heavily pregnant and giving birth in a stable would not rate as a perfect Christmas to most of us.  But that’s the Christmas setting of our nostalgic carols. More importantly, that Christmas the resulted in the Savior of the world being born. The point of Christmas celebrations is to remember and celebrate that birth, so if every bow isn’t straight or every cookie isn’t baked and decorated just right, it’s not the end of the world.

How about you? What ways have you found to get the extras done at Christmas and still have time for reflection?

“Christmas is so much more than a holiday. So much more than buying and wrapping and cooking and eating and trimming with tinsel and mailing out cards. It’s a season for reflection, for preparation, for renewal.” ~Liz Curtis Higgs, The Women of Christmas 

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

Book Review: From Heaven

from-heavenI like to read a Christmas devotional during December, so I got From Heaven: A 28-Day Advent Devotional by A. W. Tozer when I saw it on a recent Kindle sale for 99 cents since I have enjoyed what I have read of Tozer in the past.

Compiled by unnamed editors at Moody Publishing from Tozer’s various writings and sermons, it is probably different than a book like this that Tozer would have written himself. There is not really a logical progression from point A to point B or developing and building on truths throughout the book. It’s just a series of isolated bits somewhat on the theme of Christ’s coming to Earth in both His first advent, which we celebrate at Christmas, and His second advent, when He returns. That lack of progression or development plus the entries’ being taken out of context from their original sources are the book’s greatest weaknesses. Introductory remarks convey that profits from the book sales will go to help Moody students, so this may have even been assembled as something of a fund raiser.

But it is Tozer, after all, who is a deep thinker and often has something noteworthy to say, which is the book’s greatest strength.

Some of the chapter titles are What the Advent Established, The Meaning of Christmas, The Logic of the Incarnation, Three Truths Behind Christmas, Light and Life to All He Brings.

Some of the quotes that stood out to me:

Even though you may still be unconverted and going your own way, you have received much out of the ocean of His fullness. You have received the pulsing life that beats in your bosom. You have received the brilliant mind and brain within the protective covering of your skull. You have received a memory that strings the events you cherish and love as a jeweler strings pearls into a necklace and keeps them for you as long as you live and beyond. All that you have is out of His grace. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us, is the open channel through which God moves to provide.

We must love someone very much to stay awake and long for his coming.

Another reason for the absence of real yearning for Christ’s return is that Christians are so comfortable in this world that they have little desire to leave it.

All of the mercy God is capable of showing, all of the redeeming grace that He could pour from His heart, all of the love and pity that God is capable of feeling–all of these are at least suggested in the message that He came!

All of our hopes and dreams of immortality, our fond visions of a life to come, are summed up in these simple words in the Bible record: He came!

The idea that the Old Testament is a book of law and the New Testament a book of grace is based on a completely false theory. There is certainly as much about grace and mercy and love in the Old Testament as there is in the New. There is more about hell, more about judgment and the fury of God burning with fire upon sinful men in the New Testament than in the Old

The only contrast here is between all that Moses could do and all that Jesus Christ can do. The Law was given by Moses—that was all that Moses could do. Moses was not the channel through which God dispensed His grace. God chose His only begotten Son as the channel for His grace and truth, for John witnesses that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. All that Moses could do was to command righteousness. In contrast, only Jesus Christ produces righteousness. All that Moses could do was to forbid us to sin. In contrast, Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. Moses could not save, but Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior.

The big thing is to be sure we are not lulled to sleep by a false hope, that we do not waste our time dreaming about days that are not to be ours. The main thing is to make today serve us by getting ready for any possible tomorrow. Then whether we live or die, whether we toil on in the shadow or rise to meet the returning Christ, all will be well.

[This one really helped me with the concept of “of His fullness have we all received” in John 1:16]: If you could ask the deer that goes quietly down to the edge of the lake for a refreshing drink, “Have you received of the fullness of the lake?” the answer would be: “Yes and no. I am full from the lake but I have not received from the fullness of the lake. I did not drink the lake. I only drank what I could hold of the lake.”

Christmas as it is celebrated today is badly in need of a radical reformation. What was at first a spontaneous expression of an innocent pleasure has been carried to inordinate excess.

In our mad materialism we have turned beauty into ashes, prostituted every normal emotion, and made merchandise of the holiest gift the world ever knew. Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate His coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year. Not peace but tension, fatigue, and irritation rule the Christmas season. He came to free us of debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them. He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them. The simple token given out of love has been displaced by expensive presents given because we have been caught in a squeeze and don’t know how to back out of it.

So, we live between two mighty events—that of His incarnation, death, and resurrection, and that of His ultimate appearing and the glorification of those He died to save. This is the interim time for the saints—but it is not a vacuum. He has given us much to do and He asks for our faithfulness. In the meantime, we are zealous of good works, living soberly, righteously, godly in this present world, looking unto Him and His promise. In the midst of our lives, and between the two great mountain peaks of God’s acts in the world, we look back and remember, and we look forward and hope! As members of His own loving fellowship, we break the bread and drink the wine. We sing His praise and we pray in His Name, remembering and expecting!

Tozer is not one to leave you with warm fuzzy feelings, but he does make you think. And though the chapters seem a little disjointed, there is much good food for thought and conviction here.

Genre: Christian non-fiction
Objectionable elements: None.
My rating: 8 out of 10

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

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Laudable Linkage

It’s a busy time of year, but I’ve discovered several thought-provoking reads online the last couple of weeks. Perhaps some of them will pique your interest as well.

Weep, Groan, Wail: The Need to Lament. “How is it possible to grieve, mourn, and wail but still know God is good?”

Even If He Doesn’t. “When the bad things come, when the kind of rescue we think we need just isn’t part of our story, will we be able to testify before a watching world that God can do it, that He will do it, but even if He doesn’t, we won’t turn away.”

Immanuel. From a friend’s whose 25 year old daughter is fighting yet another setback in her cancer battle. God is with us, even in the hard places, even in bad news.

5 Reasons to Read the Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing. I kept thinking Yes! all throughout reading this.

Jesus Isn’t Threatened by Your Christmas Gifts. Loved the practicality and balance in this. “The implicit messaging is that Christmas is a kind of either/or proposition in which we can either emphasize Jesus or emphasize gifts. But one always threatens to displace the other. I disagree with this.”

Miracles at Midnight.

5 Ways We Stunt Our Spiritual Growth.

Seekest Thou Great Things For Thyself? HT to Challies.

It’s Time to Take Your Medicine. “As we read the letters of Paul we find he always frames things this way: ‘God has done this for you in Christ, therefore you should respond in the following ways.’ ‘Thus the motivation, energy, and drive for holiness are all found in the reality and power of God’s grace in Christ.'”

Words That Shimmer. “For Christians, isn’t it amazing that our gracious God chose something as powerful as words to communicate to us His glorious truth? Everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). What a gift! What a treasure! Collectors of words take heart:”

Praying Biblical Prayers.

(Re)Remembering What We Mean. “Fairy tales employ the tool of the fantastic to jar us back to a truer vision that sees that all things are fantastic. Wonder is an appropriate response to all things because all things are wonderfully made.”

On parenting:

Should Parents Lay Down The Law Or Give Grace? “Grace is not rejecting authority. Grace is not walking away from the need of my children to have boundaries in their life—grace is about the way that I do that.”

My Changing Thoughts On Being a Mother. I wrestled with many of the same things mentioned here.

On writing:

Why Backstory Is Better Than Flashbacks.

And finally, I loved this video of a deer and rabbit playing. At least the deer is playing – it takes a while for the rabbit. Someone posted this on Facebook with the caption “Bambi and Thumper are real!”

Happy Saturday!