in the bleak mid-winter

Stunning words, perfect harmonies: a favorite Christmas hymn.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.

Listen here.

celebrate

It’s Christmas week.

Celebration begins in earnest, or at least the plans for doing so begin to whip into shape — and isn’t that half the celebration? Calendar out to plan the afternoons for cinnamon roll baking, birthday cake making (Cecily!), and when to start the food for Christmas dinner; kids all out on the town with money burning in their pockets, eyes sharp as they hunt for the perfect sibling gift; me slipping into my room and wrapping what is left (ha! most!) of the gifts while children inevitably follow and knock and whisper loudly, “Can I wrap my gifts yet??”; shopping lists covertly texted to Ryan as I remember all those stocking needs that slipped my mind; and hopefully plenty of evenings together by candlelight, tree light, reading or singing or watching a favorite holiday movie. We are celebrating, after all.

Last night my boys were able to sing in a Christmas cantata that was so beautiful, so well done, and so moving, I literally laid in bed unable to sleep because I was riding such a high of joy and awe and too much wonder to hold. I listened to wave after wave of beautiful sounds, carefully penned and orchestrated by musical craftsmen and wordsmiths, and astonished (again, as I often am) at how many pains are taken to try and give voice to the mind-blowing miracle of Jesus’ birth, God’s gift of redemption. Men and women labor over their offerings of art and expression, their hearts swollen with emotion and the need to contribute their own voice to the chorus of hundreds who have already sung, written, played, painted, danced and otherwise expressed the majesty of God’s love.

I listen to soaring sopranos over fanfare of brass woven with ribbons of string filled in with harmonies that seem to have always existed and someone finally heard them and wrote them down — and I wonder, with such beautiful expressions here, where we only see dimly, what will the song of heaven be like? I weep with the wonder of it, with the aching to express it myself.

And rightly so. It is the story of the Ages, of all mankind.

That I was blind, so very very lost.

And this babe in a manger — He was the gift of sight, the one who came to lead me home.

april in pictures

This spring is winning the award for Most Money Spent Heating Our House. To welcome May 1st, I turned up the thermostat. But rain or no rain, this month promises to be bursting with fun and activity. Before we launch into all of that, a quick bit of reflection. April was…

…days of routine at home,


(I love Beatrice’s drawings!)

…bringing the boys to their NYSSMA performance evaluation, where they both did superbly,


(I tried to get pictures of the boys getting ready to perform, but too many nerves to stand still and smile.)

…Easter celebrations!,

…a few mild days that found us running to be outdoors,

…food, of course,

…presbytery meetings at church, and William receiving prayer,

…and shuttling my four little thespians back and forth to rehearsals. Each drive finds them more and more and more excited to perform this coming weekend!

That’s it! April is done. A fresh page today (true, with many squares filled in already), that can be given completely to Him. He’s got a book, too, and all my days are written in it. Comfort and purpose.

new years eve, 2016

A year is ending. A whole year made up of, really, pretty insignificant days all strung in a row. Some highs, for sure, and definitely some days that felt like a punch in the gut. But mostly, it was just daily kinds of days.

A tapestry woven of time, places, and people. The thread of my life intersecting with my children’s, with my husband’s, with yours. The gold of this situation, the black of that one. The rows and rows of whites and gray that seem to mean little, but what do we know? We aren’t the weaver, we’re just the thread, and this masterpiece will be seen when we’re on the other side.

*****

Feeling, today, thankfulness I can’t even put into words. I am incredibly rich in this season. I am pursued by a God who never gives up on me, who continues to turn over stones and illuminate shadowy corners and sets me free to hope and life and peace I could never have without Him. My husband is a man of incredible wisdom and insight, whose hope is firmly fixed on Jesus alone, who is generous all day long, and who speaks truth to me that sets me free. I have children who are a delight, whose lives were planned by God, and whose destinies I impact every day. Friends, family — abundance. A warm home, food in the cupboards, wool slippers on my feet. From small needs to big, God provides and teaches me in them all. In utter heartache, He hears. For grace to make another dinner cheerfully, He is there. Some years have left me trusting that God willprovide. This year, I am so aware of all He has provided.

*****

Saying goodbye to the year is, first, saying goodbye to a month of special moments.

*****

Already the Holy Spirit is stirring new hunger and expectation in my heart. The sun rises tomorrow to a new calendar year, but our true hope is the promise of eternity — and the foretaste we have now in the presence of His Spirit working out His kingdom come in our lives. He’s making something beautiful. We can trust Him.

Christmas Eve

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A last morning to anticipate. This boy who is still my baby, still my sidekick. I’m thankful for so much today.

Enjoy your preparations, friends. The clothes ironing and cookie plating and dinner making. The last gift wrapping and tree rearranging.

Today we’ll get ready for the last Christmas party of our year — just us, after church tonight, with candles and snacks and reading the Christmas story. The best party of all. Let the celebrations begin. Or continue — because isn’t that the whole point of this? Jesus came to dwell among us, abiding in our hearts, walking with us in every exhilarating, dreary, rejoicing, heartbroken moment. He crowns every moment with His presence. He changes us from the brokenness we were born as into the whole person He envisioned from the beginning. The celebration unfolds, day by day, and we anticipate Him coming again — when we will see “yonder break a new and glorious morn.”

Merry Christmas.

christmas time is here

The first week and a half of the much-anticipated Christmas season is already past. A month that is full of “musts”, and yet simultaneously is a blank slate each year, waiting for me, the Mama, to plot a course led by the Holy Spirit for this year. What will be the big rocks for this particular year? What are our hearts especially needing? What opportunities are arising that we are uniquely fitted to engage?

How can I help these little hearts see Jesus?

And so I try to listen to that small whisper, and we dance and celebrate and bake and read and play (and crash and repent) our way through these special days. We bring boughs and lights and most-special ornaments and figures into our rooms, and our everyday home becomes a place of beauty and celebration — and I remember how God Himself comes into the everyday place of my heart and makes it beautiful and heavenly, something altogether amazing.

So far, our month has included decorating, getting a tree, snuggles with Daddy, working on embroidery projects and other things, playing in fresh snow, Christmas concerts, outings, playing piano at a nursing home, and just enjoying candles and “special.”