Not Only Christmas Day

>> Friday, December 26, 2014

Lord, this is my prayer:
Not only on Christmas Day,
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.

And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.

Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You've done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant."
Your Master says, "Well done."

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day.

-- Mary Fairchild

Three Kings 2 


The Colours of Christmas

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I love the amazing way this ancient story can be made new every year, despite the words always being the same.  God's Word truly is the LIVING Word!

I haven't listened quite as regularly this Christmas season to my favourite online radio program, but one broadcast from last year's series, "My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation." still stands out in my mind.  (I'd encourage you to check out the entire series if you want to recapture the wonder and awe of the story of Emmanuel.)  Host Nancy Leigh DeMoss said something that stuck with me because it speaks to an aspect of the story that has become so significant to me over the last several years.  She quoted Frederic Farrar, a 19th century Bible commentator, who wrote:

"As the East catches at sunset the colours of the West,
so Bethlehem is a prelude to Calvary,
and even the Infant’s cradle is tinged with a crimson reflection
from the Redeemer’s cross.”
He came to die.  He was born specifically so He could die.  For us.  To offer us the gift of salvation, to offer Himself in our place to take our punishment; an advocate for us in the Heavenly court where we are justly accused and stand guilty before a holy, perfect God.

So that we can stand there, too ~ forgiven, redeemed by His blood, justified by faith in Him.  Absolutely mind-blowing and incredible.

Have a wonderful Christmas,
my friends,
and may this knowledge give you new peace and joy this season and in the time to come.



Do I have "the Christmas Spirit"?

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our pastor quoted J. I. Packer this past Sunday in talking about the Christmas story and, given our church ministry-wide study of David Platt's "Radical," which wrapped up at the end of last month, this quote struck me as particularly fitting:

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians–I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians–go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians–alas, they are many–whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor–spending and being spent–to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others–and not just their own friends–in whatever way there seems need.
 (Knowing God, p 71)
That hits pretty hard, doesn't it?  Even if we're thoughtful and generous, we're still most likely only focused on giving to the people we love and care about.  (And to those whom we feel somewhat obligated desire to express thanks to! ;)  But not to strangers on our streets. Or even acquaintances in our community.  If we can't do it impersonally by writing a cheque or dropping a couple of non-perishable food items in the local food bank collection bin, how likely are we to lend a hand?

Do we look for needy and/or neglected people in our community to bless?  The exhausted mother who's struggling to get three mischievous young children into snowsuits at the doctor's office, the old man with the cane who pays for his groceries in cash and doesn't have enough for the meager supplies he's purchased or the dexterity to get them to his car on the icy parking lot, the family who's struggling to make rent payments to a rather shady landlord, the wife and mother who just lost her job...  Do we look for ways to BE God's hands in these people's lives?

I'm fairly certain most of us would claim we know what it means to "have the Christmas spirit," but I wonder... does my life really give evidence that I truly do understand it?

I know this probably feels like a harsh thing to read this festive time of year, and I really don't mean to make anyone feel guilty ~ honest!  I do sometimes, but I hope rather to ask myself these questions as signposts along the road to change.  I ask them not to realize how I'm failing, but rather to (hopefully) see a shift in attitude, a new way of thinking, and some evidence to back it up.

I don't want to just be convicted here and now, and then forget as soon as I get busy with my day.  I want to be convicted, make a change, and then be able to look back on quotes like this and see that I'm a different person from when I first heard/read it.  I hope the same for you.

  Three Kings 2


Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

>> Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ever since getting my Harry Connick Jr. Christmas CD years ago, this song has been a favourite of mine.  I've actually tried to find a video to link here for a couple of years already, but wasn't successful until this week.  Which is weird because this particular video was uploaded to YouTube four years ago.  And there are actually several others.


It's not really specifically a Christmas song, though somehow it seems to fit well.  I guess its Nutcracker-esque imagery of toys in an old-fashioned toy store coming to life at the stroke of midnight is what appeals to me.  The nostalgic feeling of this video certainly helps:

What do the toys in YOUR home do at night this time of year??

snow globe 2


The Christmas Earrings

>> Thursday, December 18, 2014

This is a re-post from last year.  You may or may not have already read it, but as I put these earrings on the other day for their inaugural 2014 wearing, I was reminded again of the beautiful story behind them...

I change my earrings only once a year.

For 11 months each year, I wear simple, brushed stainless steel "huggies" and small, square, white gold studs.  (Yes, I have two extraneous holes per lobe. It was trendy at one point in time, honest!)  But every December, I exchange the huggies for a very special pair of earrings...

Eons ago, after my one and only year of university, I got my first job at The Big City's première electronics store, where I stayed for almost five years. Initially, I worked as a cashier/switchboard operator, and before the days of computer automation, that was a pretty demanding job. Especially in December!

In those days ~ and perhaps even now if there haven't been too many renovations in the intervening years ~ the cashier's counter extended into the auto electronics section of the store and was shared with the automotive installation desk.  The door to the installation garage was beside that section of the counter and as a result, the cashiers and auto-installers saw a lot of each other.

One of those installers was an older Vietnamese immigrant, who was working hard to send money to his family back home in hopes that one day they would be able to join him in Canada.  After a few years of working his full-time job in the installation department, he lobbied successfully to get the store's after-hours cleaning contract as well.  He was a small, sweet man with a somewhat limited command of the English language and a very strong accent.

The store was open till 9 every night during the week, and until I moved up into the administrative offices, I worked two or three evenings every week.  Those were usually relatively slow hours at the store and since "Coon" was there every evening to clean, we often got to visit a little here and there.  He was difficult to understand and tended not to talk much because he knew his communication skills were limited, but as time progressed, I gradually got to know a little more about him ~ his family, his time as a fighter pilot in the Vietnam war, and his coming to Canada.

Much of his story I've already forgotten, but he had not had an easy life, by any stretch of the imagination.  Yet his attitude remained positive.  It was unusual to hear him talk about the harder things he'd experienced because he made a conscientious effort to speak of his hopes rather than his suffering.

One night in early December after we'd all left, he happened across a jewelers' box in the parking lot just outside the installation garage door.  He brought it to the cash counter the next morning and showed us the beautiful Christmas tree earrings nestled on black velvet inside.  Undoubtedly they'd been dropped by a customer and since they were personalized with birthstones, we imagined someone would be inquiring about them.  The store manager instructed us to keep the earrings at the desk until Christmas.  No one ever called.

On Boxing Day, the height of shopping frenzy up here in Canada, the earrings were returned to Coon towards the end of the day, since he'd been the one who found them.  He carried them around with him until closing and as we breathed a sigh of relief and began cashing out our tills after the doors had been locked, he shyly approached me and handed me the box.  In his accented, broken English, he said he wanted me to have them.  I knew his wife had passed away years earlier and he had only sons back in Vietnam, but I protested and suggested he keep them for a relative or a future daughter-in-law.

With glistening eyes, he pushed them back across the counter to me and said, "No, they are for you.  If I had had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be just like you."

And so they became mine, these "daughter's pride"-style Christmas tree earrings from a lonely immigrant who had no daughter, and certainly no spare change to spend on gifts for co-workers.  These Christmas tree earrings with three coloured gemstones in each, which ~ if not the exact ones ~ happen to fairly closely match the birthstones of myself, my mom, and my dad.

I am honoured to wear them every December and each time I put them on for the first time, I think of my old friend Cuong ~ whose name we could never really pronounce properly ~ and silently wish him a merry Christmas.

Stacked Presents


This Year's Favourite

>> Sunday, December 14, 2014

This will be the first Christmas in a while that I don't treat myself to any new Christmas music (probably because I went a little crazy last year and bought 5 new CDs!!), but despite that, I've found my favourite Christmas 2014 song.

It seems each year, either I hear a new one that I instantly love and can't stop listening to, or for whatever reason, a familiar one just grips me in a way it hasn't before.  (and I can't stop listening to it!)  Such is the case with this one:

I couldn't find a video I really liked with both lyrics and assorted images, but you get the picture!

Whether you are already feeling it or not,
I hope you experience a little bit of Heaven this season.

And I pray we will choose to extend it to others as well.



November Elevator Project

>> Tuesday, December 2, 2014

And then winter arrived.

We got our first "real" snow on the 22nd, so we went from looking the way it did on the 19th to the way it did on the 23rd almost literally overnight.

And then we got about the same amount (approx. 4") on the 28th/29th.

Happy December!!

Shoveling Snow


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