12 Days of Christmas | Day 12 | Merry Christmas

Hello all of y’all.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Christmas is actually finally here!

I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day celebrating our savior’s birth.

See you in the New Year! 🙂


Song of the Day: Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice

Such a beautiful, precious song capturing the wonder of Christmas.


“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

-Luke 2:15-20 (ESV)

12 Days of Christmas | Day 11 | A Prayer for Christmas

Today I’m going to do something a little different and I’m not really sure how it will go. I’m going to share some hopes, fears, and thoughts from my heart with you in the form of a prayer. I hope you are blessed.


Oh Abba! It is so hard to understand what even happened when Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit and bore the very Son of God.

I really can’t say that I understand it at all. But when I try to grasp all of its meaning, I am wonderstruck.

You, the Most High God became a Man, like any other and yet so unlike any other. Help me understand.

The story You have carved in history is wondrous. It is purely amazing. A rebellious people cast you away. A blind and deaf generation rejected you. Yet you sent your son, your only son, to die for us.

Forgive me when I think my sin is too great! Hold me and help me to trust you when I fear it is too much to ever comprehend. I can’t comprehend it fully, and I never will. But that’s okay.

Take my heart, it is thine own. Let it be thy royal Throne.”

Oh Father! How is it that you have sent Emmanuel, God with us? How can it be?

I surrender my heart, I will cling to it no longer. Reign in me, LORD. Reign in your rightful place.

Through your birth you have opened the way. Through the cross you sealed our salvation. You tore the veil from top to bottom. And now I can approach you Glorious Throne with boldness.

For you are mine, and you will hold me fast forever.

Dear Abba, when I think about tomorrow and all the surprises and stresses it holds my heart feels impatient and heavy.

Let me rest in you, right here, right now, for a moment longer. Let me glimpse the beauty of a Story never to be forgotten.

I don’t want anything to get in the way. Because you are most important in my life.

I am yours. You are mine. Your love is everlasting, you grace abounding, and as far as the east is from the west, so have you removed my sins from me.

I want to rejoice in you. I want to sing! For you alone are the fairest of all, my portion, and my strength, all the days of my life.

“Because your love is better than life, I will praise you. (Psalm 63:3)”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


I hope you enjoyed! Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Eve. Hopefully you’re not like me, and you have everything ready for Christmas.


Song of the Day: Christmas Dreams by Francesca Battistelli

I simply couldn’t resist sharing this one, even if it doesn’t match the overall mood of the post very well. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite Christmas Eve songs.


“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.”

-Psalm 23:6 (ESV)

12 Days of Christmas | Day 10 | Word Study on “Reign”

Hello everyone! I’m a teeny bit late as usual. I don’t even want to think about all I need to get done tomorrow…yikes!

I’m not exactly sure why I decided to go with “reign” as my final word study with all the others to choose from, but it was one of the top ones and it felt like a good wrapping up place (*ahem* no reference to Christmas intended).

Speaking of which…I have yet to wrap any Christmas presents. But that’s kind off topic! Let’s talk about reign.

To change things up a little…let’s start with the Greek (New Testament).

Basileuó means to be King or to reign. A similar word is sumbasileuó meaning to reign with. Sumbasileuó is the word used in 2 Timothy 2:12 where it says:

“For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He will also deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

Another similar word is basileia which is means to sovereignty, kingdom or authority and usually refers to said sovereignty being in God’s hands. It is usually translated as kingdom. For instance:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”

-Matthew 6:33

“So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.”

-Luke 13:18-19

“And He made us into a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

-Revelation 1:6

Yet another variation of this word appears once in the Christmas story (according to Luke) and once in Revelations. The word is basileusei.

“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

-Luke 1:30-33

“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

-Revelation 11:15

Hégemonia is a noun that refers to “a reign.” For instance the hégemonia of Tiberus Caesar (as mentioned in Luke 3:1).

Archó means to reign over, but can also mean to begin.

For the Hebrew I’m going to try and focus on prophecies of Christ (rather than the recounting of all the reigns of random kings throughout the Old Testament).

I’ve chose four verse to go over one from the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah.

“The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and encircled Himself with strength.
Indeed, the world is firmly established; it will not be moved.”

-Psalm 93:1

The word for reign in this instance is malak meaning to be or become king (to reign). It occurs 348 times in the Old Testament and is used to describe when someone becomes king and to describe how Yahweh reigns forever and ever.

“How delightful on the mountains
Are the feet of one who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

-Isaiah 52:7

Isaiah uses the same word here as well (malak). I love how the hymn “Our God Reigns” incorporates this verse. It’s so beautiful.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.”

-Jeremiah 23:5

Turns out the word used in Jeremiah is almost exactly the same with one minor difference. Insted of “malak” Jeremiah uses “umalak” which more specifically means that he “will reign.” I don’t know anything about Hebrew grammar, but I’m guessing this is the future tense of the same word (reigns=present, will reign=future).

“I will make those who limp a remnant,
And those who have strayed a mighty nation,
And the LORD will reign over them on Mount Zion
From now on and forever.”

-Micah 4:7

And as I was guessing Micah also uses umalak, or “will reign.”

YAHWEH is sovereign and YAHWEH is King of Kings, in the past, the present, and the future. But it seems Jeremiah and Micah in particular, looked forward to the reign of the perfect King over all those who are truly his people. They looked forward to the redemptive King, the one who would gather the Nobodies into a mighty nation and call it His own.

That King is Jesus, the One and Only Son of God and Son of Man and He is knocking on your heart even now, calling for you to surrender your broken heart to him and let him make it a mighty throne. He loves you more fully and truly than you can yet comprehend and brings healing in his reign. Let him reign in your heart.


Song of the Day: He Shall Reign Forevermore by Matt Maher

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this song with you. Matt Maher’s version is by far my favorite version. It’s awesome!


He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

-Luke 1:32-33

“For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He will also deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

12 Days of Christmas | Day 9 | In Which I Attempt to Write a Christmas Story

Hello everyone! Can you even believe that there is only 3 more days until Christmas!!?!?!? I’m starting to wonder if my to-do list is even capable of being completed. 🙄

Also…today I am going to try and write some flash fiction. I haven’t even decided what it will be about. Annd…I haven’t really written fiction since October maaybe early November. So I’m feeling kind of rusty and reluctant. Maybe a little bit of nonexistent writer’s block is in there as well??

To be completely honest I kind of hate (*ahem* I meant strongly dislike) my own writing currently, but I will try to just write SOMETHING and still share it. It’s a challenge, right? I can be competitive.

*rubs hands together*

*stares at remaining blank screen*

*begins staring at ceiling*

*glances back at computer*

Riight…so about that story…

Uuummm…I’ll be back. In a little bit. Just have to think for a while…

(This won’t really be that bad, right?)

*Ahem* I’m back again. Still not sure what I’m going to write, but I may as well write the first few sentences.

Once Upon a Time…

Kalea stared at her dim laptop screen in the darkness of the living room. Well…except for the Christmas lights in random corners of the room.

She continues to stare at her blank document. Somehow she could write analytical overviews for a living, yet she couldn’t manage to a single line of fiction.

I’m pretty sure my imagination no longer works.

Kalea’s friend Lissa, a budding entrepreneur, said she’d read somewhere that changes in environment sometimes helped with Writer’s Block.

So here she was. Instead of writing in a cheery office at 8 o’clock in the morning she was attempting to write at 10 o’clock at night. On her couch. Three days before her “unique” Christmas story was supposed to be finished. At least she wasn’t actually becoming a nightowl.

Somehow nighttime just wasn’t doing the trick in sparking her imagination.

Kalea pulled out her phone to message Lissa.

“Still trying to brainstorm ideas for that Christmas story I promised I’d write.”

A second later there was a ding. Well…to be exact it was a short portion of Carol of the Bells…you know cause everyone sets something like that for a notification ringtone.

Me too. Working on brainstorming a unique design for my business pitch a week from now”

Kalea sighed. There was a big difference between designing a product and writing a story. Not that she could do either. But writing a story should be easy…right?

“I’m actually getting pretty convinced that my imagination is dead. Like seriously.”

Kalea pressed send and turned her phone off. After staring into the distance for a while and thinking about everything else that needed to be done before Christmas, she got up from the couch. Definitely no words spouting out of her brain right now.

She walked into the dark kitchenette of her apartment and stared out the window lost in blank thought.

Literally all she wanted for Christmas was to finish this nonexistent story.

Somehow Lissa had an imagination but she didn’t. And while Lissa said she believed in God and Jesus and all that “church stuff,” she seemed to get really uncomfortable when Kalea talked about it.

Would her friends listen to her about Jesus if she could write stories? Since she’d become a Christian she’d found that even if her friends said they believed the same things as her, they never wanted to talk about it.

They like to read her reports though…and she thought they were more than “pretty” dry. They were horrid. Would they read a story?

Well if the Lord hadn’t given her an imagination, that wasn’t likely to work out. What was she supposed to do about the deadline? Ugh.

Kalea startled as she heard a knock on her window. On the fourth story. How was that even possible?

Was is a bird? It couldn’t possibly be Santa Claus…but maybe something else? Did someone try to jump off the roof? Did someone manage to climb a ladder or ride one of the lifter machine thingimajigs to knock on her window? What would they want?

She quickly reached for where she had set her phone when she came into the kitchenette and opend her Lissa’s contact.

“Umm…I think someone just knocked on my fourth story window.”

She texted frantically.

“Do you think it might be a thief? How would someone knock on a window that high up anyway?? Or could it somehow have been a bird…maybe the bird was looking at someone else??”

After a few seconds Lissa messaged her laughing emoji.

“What’s so funny?”

Kalea texted back.

“Read the text before your last two.”

Lissa replied almost instantly. Kalea scrolled up on her phone, still confused.

After a few long, drawn-out seconds Lissa offered a bit of an explanation.

“At first you were like ‘I don’t have an imagination’ then you’re like imagining all sorts of ways a knocking sound could have come from the direction of your window. 😀”

Waaait…what?

Kalea struggled to wrap her brain around it, but when she did she burst out laughing.

Texting back a cringing emoji and a laughing emoji, she looked around for her light up clock. She should probably keep brainstorming. Maybe she could manage to write at least one sentence.

I mean…it could even be about someone trying to knock on a fourth story window.

Kalea grinned.

Where is that clock anyway? She wondered peering closer at the wall it usually was.

Walking closer she realized it was face-down on the ground. Right by the window.

And that’s when she realized her imagination was most definitely not dead. Nothing had knocked against her fourth-story window. Her clock had fallen down.

The thought caused her to break down laughing.

And already a story was forming in her mind. Maybe even a story her friends would read. And think about.

Time to get writing.

THE END.


Okay that was actually fun once I got started. While that probably wasn’t very exceptional writing, I hope you enjoyed it too!

And seriously, the best solution to Writer’s Block is to write about Writer’s Block. Works pretty much every time. You should totally try it next time you just can’t seem to get any words on the page.

(I’m sorry it wasn’t as Christmasy as I was hoping!)

Also this is literally my absolute favorite example of writing about Writer’s Block. You’ve got to check it out.

Hope you enjoyed, see you tomorrow, and have an awesome and blessed Christmas!


Song of the Day:

I had a lot of trouble choosing this one today. On one hand, “3:42 AM (Writer’s Block)” by MercyMe seemed to match best. On the other hand…I was kinda going for Christmasy songs. So I guess I’ll have to pick two?

3:42 Am (Writer’s Block) by MercyMe

Be Born In Me by Francesca Battistelli (have you noticed I like Francesca Battistelli?😉).


“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 3:14

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

-James 1:12

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

-1 Peter 1:13


*All scripture quotations are from the NASB translation

**Also…hoping there aren’t any super back typos cause I didn’t even really edit this one. 🙂

12 Days of Christmas | Day 8 | Encouragement and Exhortation for Christmas

Hello everyone and I am so sorry that I’m so late with this post…I was supposed to write it two days ago and but I got so busy on Sunday and then completely spaced out yesterday about it.

Because I’m so late this post will be short but sweet and you should expect another post today (the post that was actually supposed to be today).

I guess what I really want to offer is some encouragement. But I don’t want to follow all the repetitive cliché “lessons” for us based on the Christmas story. I want to offer real, heart-felt encouragement amid everything.

To be honest I’ve been really worn out and just plain tired around Christmas. And it’s not so much Christmas that makes me tired, but everything surrounding it.

Finals week. Election results. So much to do and see. Crowded stores. Every room is a “Santa’s Workshop.” Anticipation and dread. Concerts to play in and see. Cards to write and read. Catching up on everything you’ve procrastinated on. Fighting winter depression. Wondering if when this year ends and the New Year begins, we’ll have measured up to our own standard. Met our resolutions. Seen if we’re good enough.

It’s exhausting. And so complicated.

This year excluded, I’ve never really felt lonely at Christmas. And definitely not the whole “singles loneliness.” This year COVID and social distancing has made me a lonely already, but Christmas hasn’t made that any worse really.

It’s not loneliness I tend to deal with this time of year but bitterness, jealousy, discontentment, and self-hatred.

It’s almost funny how jealousy and self-hatred can go hand-in-hand. One is discontentment with others (particularly in comparison to others) and one is discontentment with oneself. And while discontentment with oneself can be beneficial if it lead to dependence on God, if it simply festers into bitterness it can be a whole lot worse.

Here are 10 of the things I’ve learned work and don’t work to keep bitterness and jealousy in check (particularly around Christmas). I hope you are both encouraged and exhorted by them.

1) Lowering your expectations of Christmas so you “won’t be disappointed” only temporarily subdues bitterness and jealousy.

2) Living out peace and kindness throughout the Christmas season and particularly on Christmas day does not just happen automatically. There is no “Christmas magic” that makes people get along better. If there is no work going into it, it’s just surface peace. Loving one another takes sacrifice and effort, even on Christmas day.

3) Understanding the difference between “I deserve to have whatever I want particularly if it’s small” and “I am loved by God who will give me whatever I truly need” is very important.

4) There is so much joy in pouring your heart into a gift for another person.

5) Perfect love casts out fear

6) Most of the time others don’t know when you’re feeling lonely, jealous for attention and love, and festering bitterness. With all the busyness surrounding Christmas it can be so hard to tell if a loved one is feeling neglected or ignored. When you recognize a root of jealousy or bitterness in yourself, often all it takes is a quick note to a friend or family member telling them that you are feeling lonely or isolated for them to realize this and help fill your cup back up. It’s not about demanding love, but about recognizing when and why you are sad then communicating it instead of resorting to bitterness or unkindness.

7) If you are just feeling grumpy or irritated and you can’t figure out why asking a friend or two to pray about it can really help you sort out your attitude. Admitting you have a bad attitude does wonders.

8) Loving others who are as broken as you (if not more broken on the outside) can not only work to heal and help them, but also to renew a right spirit within you and fill you with gratitude and hope in the midst of your bitterness.

9) Remember that every day is a gift. Enjoy every moment with you loved ones and focus on the important things instead of getting caught up in trivial arguments.

10) You are loved by God. Fully and utterly loved. You are special, you are beautiful, and you have been made perfect in God’s eyes by Jesus’ sacrifice if only you accept his beautiful gift of salvation. You are made in the image of God and don’t you ever forget that. If God says you are awesomely and wonderfully made, who are you to say otherwise? If God says there is hope for you, that even now He is working in you and sanctifying you, who are you to say otherwise.


“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:37

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

-Romans 8:1

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.”

-Psalm 139:14


Song of the Day: Heaven Everywhere by Francesca Battistelli


*All scripture quotations are from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted

12 Days of Christmas | Day 7 | Word Study on “Emmanuel”

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Today we are doing a word study on the most requested Christmas-related word: Emmanuel.

First off, we know from Matthew 1:23 that Emmanuel means “God with us.”

“Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they shall name Him Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

The Hebrew word for Emmanuel is “Immanuel,” which directly translated means “with us is God.”

The word Immanuel comes from the Hebrew words “im” and “el“. Im means beside or with and El means God (kind of like Elohim I think).

Immanuel is used twice in the Old Testament, once in Isaiah 7 and once in Isaiah 8.

In the first instance, God is talking to Ahaz (through Isaiah) telling him “not [to] be fainthearted” and telling him of what is going to happen (Isaiah 7:4). If you’d like more context I suggest reading Isaiah 7 for yourself and maybe look at something like this to understand the greater context.

After emphasizing the need for Ahaz to wholeheartedly believe what He is telling him, the LORD tells Ahaz to ask for a sign and to “make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (Isaiah 7:11), Ahaz refuses and claims he will not “put the Lord to the test” (Isaiah 7:12).

The LORD rebukes him for his arrogance and says that the Lord himself will give Ahaz a sign. The sign of Immanuel, conceived by a virgin.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy knows enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be abandoned.”

-Isaiah 7:14-16

It seems in this case that there were multiple fulfillments of the prophecy, one right then, and one later, when Christ was born. Because while this is the very prophecy quoted by Matthew in reference to Jesus’ birth, it was also fulfilled in Ahaz’s lifetime (before the boy conceived knew enough to refuse evil and choose good).

The Greek word used by Matthew in Matthew 1:23 to refer to Jesus’ virgin birth is “Emmanouél” which is a messianic title that means, as does the Hebrew word, God with us.

Whenever I think of “God with us” I think of the last part of Hebrews 13:5 where it quotes from the Old Testament and reminds us that “He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV).

God is with us always and will never forsake us. He is always there for us to turn to and one day he will take us to be with Him forever. Never fear! He is there for you.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the Lord your God is the One who is going with you. He will not desert you or abandon you.”

-Deuteronomy 31:6

Another verse I think of when I think of God with us is Ezekiel 37:27 and the verses surrounding.

“I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.

And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

-Ezekial 37:26-28 (ESV)

Something about that verse “my dwelling place shall be with them…I will be their God…they shall be my people” makes me a little homesick for heaven.

God is with us indeed. But I simply can’t wait to truly see Him face to face and sit at his feet and worship him! I can hardly even imagine a glimpse of what it will be like. Won’t it be glorious, when we are truly His people and He is truly our God? Then we’ll be truly with him forever and ever.

I hope you enjoyed and were encouraged by this post! I’m a little later in the day than I was planning on being but oh well! I think I needed a little more time on this post, as short as it is.

Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow for Day 8. Can you believe it’s only 5 more days until Christmas????!?


Song of the Day: O Come O Come Emmanuel by Joshua Aaron

O Come O Come Emmanuel was a pretty intuitive choice for today, but what’s even cooler is the version I chose! It’s sung with more traditional Hebrew pronunciation and has sections that are actually sung in Hebrew!!! It’s so cool. Plus it’s sung live from the Tower of David.


“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

-Revelation 3:20

“And they will fight against you but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to save you,” declares the Lord.”

-Jeremiah 1:19

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be.”

-John 14:2-3


*All scripture quotations are from the NASB translation unless otherwise noted

12 Days of Christmas | Day 6 | Christmas Traditions

Welcome to Day 6 of the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. Don’t forget to check out Stories by Firefly (our host) and the giveaway here!

Today I’ll be talking about my favorite Christmas traditions! I love family traditions. 🙂

Without further ado…my five favorite family Christmas traditions.

The Christmas Tree

We usually get our Christmas tree like a week or two before Christmas and take it down sometime after Christmas (usually before mid-January). This year, however we actually got it two days after Thanksgiving!

Christmas Tree farms where you get to cut down your own tree are cool, but we usually go to a particular tree-stand with really good trees (and good prices).

Once we get it home, Dad trims it all fancy and we put it in a corner near the window in our living room. Then, we decorate it!

We each have a bag of ornaments that are either ours or are ours to put on the tree this year. But first someone has to put the lights on the tree.

While we’re at it, we tend to decorate other parts of the house with a little bit of Christmas lights and our nativity sets.

Stockings

When we were younger Mom and Dad filled our stockings each Christmas Eve, but at a certain point we didn’t do it anymore.

Then stockings made a comeback, this time with everyone involved. Around the same time we put up the tree we put up stockings for everyone in the family (including Mom and Dad) and everyone puts small gifts (and sometimes candy) in them to be gotten into on Christmas morning.

It’s so much fun!!! Coming up with stuff to put in Dad’s stocking was a little more difficult the first few years (especially since he really doesn’t like peppermint) but I think we’ve gotten better at it since then. 🙂

The only hard thing about our way of doing stockings is that since you often put some of the same things in everyone’s stockings it can me hard to coordinate. For instance, last year we all got each other Lindt truffles of some kind, which are absolutely delicious but there’s a limit. 😂 We had A LOT of Lindt truffles that year, so this year we’re working at doing a little coordination while still maintaining the surprise. 🙂

Gifts

As soon as possible (which often isn’t extremely soon) after Thanksgiving we put all of our names in a hat (excepting mom and dad) and draw someone to give a Christmas gift to.

We try to keep which person we are giving to a secret as long as possible, but we are always finding out on accident. For instance, last year I happened to know that the second-to-last person who drew a name, drew their own name and had to put it back. And somehow my intuitive brain just couldn’t help but instantly know the implications of that. 🙄 So yeah.

While we still often give handmade gifts to siblings who aren’t what we drew, our main (usually store-bought) gift goes to our secret person. That way we can make sure and get a super special present for everyone in the family without breaking the bank (and everyone getting a LOT of presents).

Coffee Cake

The next tradition I’m going to mention is something we pretty much only eat on Christmas Day. I’m not exactly sure how this started, or if anyone else does this, but every Christmas morning (or afternoon, if we don’t read the Christmas story and open presents right away) we have Coffee Cake either with our breakfast or after.

I’m not exactly sure why we need extra sugar on Christmas morning, but Coffee Cake on Christmas morning is a very special tradition to me!

The Christmas Story

This is the most essential and beloved Christmas tradition we have. Without it Christmas would not mean all it does. Sometimes we’ll read Luke 1-2, sometimes we’ll read Matthew 1-2, sometimes we’ll read both. But no matter what, before we open all the present under the tree, and before we go eat Coffee Cake, we read the story of the Prince of Peace incarnate in human form to deliver us from our sins.

Because truly that is the most amazing wondrous thing we could celebrate.

Have an awesome day, week, and year. God bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you and give you peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Song of the Day: The Wexford Carol (Performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma).

Good people all, this Christmas-time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day:
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
“Prepare and go, ” the angels said,
“To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely Babe, sweet Jesus born.”

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the Babe to find,
And as God’s angel had foretold,
They did our Saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger He was laid,
And by his side the Virgin Maid,
As long foretold, there was a blessed Messiah born


“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

-Philippians 2:5-11

12 Days of Christmas | Day 5 | Christmasy Aesthetics

Hello faithful followers of Faith on the Farm! 😉

I’ve never really done aesthetics (in the blogging sense) before, but it’s always sounded so cool! So I decided that today I should do some Christmasy aesthetics and pictures!!!

I came up with 4 different categories to start with: All The Colors, Red, White, and Green. This should be lots of fun! The first ones of each category are mine and the rest are from the free Pexel library.

First…let’s do White.

Now for Green!

Red next.

Yay!! Now for all the rest of the colors, all together. So pretty much like everything I couldn’t fit into red, white, and green.

And that’s about all! See ya tomorrow for some Christmas traditions. It’ll be lots of fun.


Song of the Day: Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by The Lindsey Family

This song is so much fun and has such beautiful harmony!!


“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

-Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)

*Some of the photos in this post belong to me. Please don’t steal them without my permission (in which case it would no longer be stealing).

12 Days of Christmas | Day 4 | Word Study on “Gift”

Hello everyone! I’ve been way busier than I expected, and I’m starting to get even more excited than ever for Christmas!!! I simply can’t wait until I get to reveal all of my Christmas secrets!

Speaking of Christmas gifts…today’s post is a word study on the “gift(s)” in the Bible.

It’s crazy sometimes how many Hebrew words can all mean one English word! Turns out “gift” was one of those.

Let’s begin.

Mattanah (מַתָּנָה)- translated gift or bribe and seems to be used in both positive and negative contexts.

Mattan (מַתָּן)- this one is pretty similar to Mattanah, but is in the masculine form (rather than the feminine form).

Mattath (מַתָּת)- this one also seems pretty similar to Mattanah (and is feminine) but I did notice that it can also be translated as “reward.”

Shay (שַׁי)- translated as gift, this word specifically refers to gifts of homage (I’m guessing if the story of the wise men were in Hebrew, this would be the word used for their gifts).

Minchah (מִנְחָה)- this word is translated as gift, offering, tribute, or present. For instance, in Genesis 32, when Jacob was afraid of meeting his brother Esau he sent ahead a Minchah or present (meant to appease him).

Eshkar (אֶשְׁכָּר)- translated as both gift and as payment (although to me, those seem contradictory).

Shilluchim (שִׁלּוּחַ)- this word means parting gift or sending away gift, and is sometimes translated as dowry.

Shochad (שַׁחַד)- this word can mean gift but it seems to me to be mostly translated as a bribe. It shows up a lot in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Proverbs warning against bribes.

Instead of going through all the different words for gift in Greek, I’d like to look at the main Christmas passage (namely Matthew 1-2) that mentions gifts and then look at the Greek word from the verse there.

Matthew 2 tells us that sometime after Jesus was born, Magi (we sometimes call them “wise men”) came “from the east…[to] Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Mat 2:1).

After being cross-examined by Herod (who was probably very unhappy about such an announcement) they set out to find the King of whom they believed the star had foretold.

The Bible says that “they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found.” (Mat 2:9)

They went into the house where Jesus was with Mary and “they fell down and worshiped Him” (Mat 2:11a).

At that point we come to the main verse this whole post centers around.

“Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

-Matthew 2:11b

The first thing my brother asked me when he saw me typing that over my shoulder was “what’s frankincense and myrrh?”. Well…we’ll get to that later. For now, just listen to “We Three Kings.” 🙂

The Greek word for gifts in this case is dora or dóron (I’m not sure which is correct). Dóron can mean gift, present, and sacrifice. According to HELPS Word-Studies, this particular word refers to a gift that is entirely free-willed and not externally compelled.

This same word is Luke 21 for the word offering when Jesus sees the the widow’s gift:

“And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all contributed to the offering from their surplus; but she, from her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4).

That’s about all for today! These are harder to do than I remember. 🙂


Song of the Day: We Three Kings by Steven Curtis Chapman

This was the best version of We Three Kings I could find. Here are the lyrics (which should explain at least a little about the frankincense and myrrh…if not you could always do some research!):

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect Light

Frankincense to offer have I
My gift of love and sacrifice
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God on high

Myrrh is mine, it’s bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now, behold Him, arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, alleluia
Sounds through the Earth and skies


“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

-James 1:17

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

-2 Corinthian 9:15


*All Scripture quotations are in the NASB translation unless otherwise noted

12 Days of Christmas | Day 3| Christmas Recipes

Hello and welcome to day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas blog tour 2020!

My idea for today was to share some Christmas recipes! I love to cook and I love Christmasy foods, but when I actually thought about it, I found it was harder than I expected to come up with Christmas recipes that don’t involve leaking some major secret recipe. 😉 Or breaking copyright rules.

Around Christmas, we tend to have mashed potatoes and turkey (which is also a Thanksgiving thing), gingerbread cookies (which are not entirely accepted as delicious), Christmas cookie (aka sugar cookies with frosting on them), hot chocolate, and peppermint candy ice cream.

But we don’t always use the same recipe or even make all those by hand. Plus I’ve become more and more relaxed about exact measurements in certain recipes. So I figured, instead of giving you cut-and-dry recipe instructions, I’d give more of a rough overview with lots of tips for a few of these!


Mashed Potatoes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First you peel and wash your potatoes, then boil them. You’ll want to cut in half any particularly large potatoes so they all boil evenly.

Once the potatoes have boiled until soft (about 20 or 25 minutes, depending on their size), and have been drained of the water, the very next thing you’ll want to do is add butter. Lots of it.

If you make sure and add butter first thing, before mixing it and cutting it up more, it can help ensure against the possible consequences of overmixing. Plus butter is yummy (at least on/in something). 🙂

Unless you are mashing by hand, you might want to put the potatoes in a mixing bowl at this point (maybe before you put the butter in). Then you mix it all up, cutting larger chunks down so they don’t come flying out of the mixing bowl, and you can add some salt and pepper.

The final addition is the most important addition of all. And sadly, I have become aware that it is *gasps* often neglected!! You MUST add sour cream. Not milk. Not cream. Not mashed-potato-mix-thingimajigs. Only sour cream.

Then, viola! Super yummy mashed potatoes.

Note: gravy is an entire different entity that shall not be discussed in this post. Just know that anything but homemade gravy is disgusting. 🙂

Hot Chocolate

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Hot chocolate is extremely simple. In it’s basic form, it involves milk, cocoa powder, and sugar.

It can also include a small amount of vanilla extract, a few marshmallows, and lots of whipped cream.

In essence, the best hot chocolate is made on the stove top with whole milk. Raw Jersey milk tastes best but….regular pasteurized Holstein 3% milk such as is regularly sold at stores works fine.

First you must heat the milk up and then you add a mixture of sugar and cocoa until it is chocolatey enough. We tend to use a ratio of 3 parts organic cane sugar to 1 part cocoa powder. I think it tastes better with a ratio of 3:2, but that’s probably just me. Saco premium cocoa and Ghirardelli “Majestic” premium cocoa powder are the best.

If you want to put a teeny-tiny bit of vanilla extract in, this is the perfect time to do it. You could also add some peppermint syrup for a pepperminty hot chocolate.

Once you the milk is heated up and you add your desired amount of sugar and cocoa, whisk it (or just casually stir it) until it is dissolved and then pour it into cups (or preferably, mugs…although half-filled quart jars are great too).

If you so desire, top with whip cream and a tiny sprinkle of cocoa powder. Enjoy!

Christmas Cookies

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

First off, pick your favorite starting cookie recipe. Christmas cookies are usually made with sugar cookies for a base, but you can do whatever you want.

Also pick your favorite Christmasy cookie cutter shape(s)! I think we have a tree shape, a bell shape, a gingerbread man shape, and a star shape.

Once you cook them, it’s time to decorate! We don’t tend to do any fancy (and we don’t have a piping bag) so we tend to just spread frosting on top with a butter knife.

The absolute best kind of frosting is cream-cheese frosting. There just isn’t another kind of frosting that compares!

You can do a lot of fun stuff to decorate using sprinkles, powdered sugar, different colored frosting, piping bags, et cetera.

But because you absolutely have to at least try cream-cheese frosting we’ll move onto that next! Don’t worry, it’s super easy.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Photo by Nicole Michalou on Pexels.com

To start, put a package of cream cheese in a food processer or mixer. Or double that if you’d like a bigger batch.

Next add anywhere from 3-1 cup of powdered sugar (per package of cream cheese). We use about 1 1/2 cups and I think it’s about perfect.

You can also add 1/4-1/2 stick of softened butter if you want, but we often just skip it.

Finally add a little bit of vanilla extract (1-2 tsps.) or whatever other flavoring you want (for example melted chocolate or lemon extract), and pulse (in the food processor) or mix (in the mixer).

To color your frosting either add it along with the vanilla or divide up your frosting up into smaller portions so you can have more colors. Just add a drop or two at first then mix it and then, if you want more, you can add some more later.


That’s all for today y’all!!! Hope you enjoyed!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a words study on the word “gift.” Can’t wait to see what I find!


Song of the Day: “Christmas Is” by Francesca Battistelli


“But rejoice, all who take refuge in You,
Sing for joy forever!
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may rejoice in You.

-Psalm 5:11 (NASB)