So as we all know, there’s a wide range of Christian music preferences. And naturally, a wide range of Christmas music preferences as well!
But whether you’re setting your tree up to Tchaikovsky, Frank Sinatra, or Michael W. Smith, you’ve got to admit, music sets the tone for the season of our Savior’s birth.
I’ll never forget my first Christmas in Haiti, a fresh missionary mom to three brown little toddlers, naive to just about everything in that tropical land, covered in sweat, filled with notstalgia. Self pity threatened to set in…
No Christmas Eve with brothers, grandparents, uncles, cousins. No kids forced to re-perform their Christmas songs and poems before opening glittery gifts. It was just us. Just noise and heat and work. But Steven Curtis Chapman sang through our laptop speakers about how Christmas is all in the heart, how our God is with us, how Emmanuel did this very thing—left his home to reach us. My “incarnation” was nothing compared to His. Nothing.
I was reminded that Christmas, just as I am today, that truth set to music is powerful. Life-giving. Refreshing. As you well know.
Well, this weekend I’m delighted to share some new Christmas music with you! I’ll be giving away a copy of the new MercyMe It’s Christmas! CD.
I have my own copy* and trust me, you will love it! MercyMe has a lot of fun with traditional Christmas songs, plus they add some beautiful new chords and rhythms to some of the old Christmas carols. You’re going to play this again and again; refreshed, energized, and encouraged.
Here’s the best part though… If you don’t win, this CD is only $5 at your local Pizza Ranch restaurant. Or even free, when you spend $25 in pizza gift cards!
While It’s Christmas! is available on amazon, itunes and elsewhere for more, the $5 Pizza Ranch CD offers four exclusive songs:
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Silent Night
- Oh Holy Night
- Joseph’s Lullaby
Pizza Ranch’s Mission and Vision is one that is completely worth supporting as well! What a joy to see a business owned and operated with such a clear focus:
We see it as our mission to give every guest a legendary experience, but it’s about more than that. Our purpose is ultimately glorifying God by positively impacting the world. It’s part of the reason we’ve put together this music.
All you need to do to enter the drawing is share this post on Facebook, then leave a comment below to let me know you did so. The winner of the random drawing will be announced and contacted via email Monday morning.
*CD given to me courtesy of Pizza Ranch in exchange for this authentic review.
There have been more days like that than I care to admit.
Oh, I’d really prefer for you to think of me as having it all together. Waking before dawn all these past thirty-some years to reset my focus on Christ. Drinking in His Word and His presence. Changed. Refreshed.
But no, there have been too many days that my parched soul has responded first to something else.
Exhaustion. Laziness. An urgent deadline. To-do lists. Family demands.
And I push the thirst aside, sure I can quench it later. Or some other way. Through ministry or some quick prayers and a serving of yesterday’s manna. Dry leftovers.
But too many of those days, and life tends to take a funny turn. It’s so gradual that I barely feel it. Maybe a little at first, but then I grow used to a dry mouth, and the show must go on.
The thing is, as it all goes on, circumstances weigh heavier and mountains rise higher.
Irritations morph into serious offenses. Setbacks are equivalent to failures. Discouragement turns to despair.
Before long, joy and hope are missing entirely.
And they’re signs. Signs that our souls thirst. That they’ve gone too long without Living Water. That the Word that once saturated us has evaporated. That we must drink daily.
The biggest indicator of them all?
This pervasive thought… that if we could change our circumstances, we could finally be happy.
This post is a part of a series based on my memoir, In a Sun-Scorched Land. Find your own copy here, and join me each week as I touch on another chapter, meditating on God’s faithfulness through life’s challenges.
I closed my eyes and drifted off, blissfully unaware of an oft-spoken Creole proverb that would define the years ahead: Dèyè monn gen monn – Beyond the mountains, more mountains. Had I known the shadows of those mountain paths – the toll the steep hikes would take on our family, my faith, and my health – my courage surely would have failed me. But by the grace of God, the God who can move mountains, I didn’t know, and I slept in peace. In a pool of sweat. But in peace nonetheless.
(p. 36, In a Sun-Scorched Land)
Had I known, my courage surely would have failed me.
True for us all, isn’t it?
And sometimes we’re caught up in wondering, What exactly does lie ahead?
That first day Jarod and I spent in Haiti was too full, too action-packed for me to worry, but there’s been many a day since then that I’ve made time to not only wonder, but to fret:
- How will we make ends meet?
- How will this child ever get past this?
- Will I ever feel normal again?
- Will this fear ever leave?
- What if God asks too much of me?
Our futures always stretch out in front of us, unknown, mysterious. To us.
But not to our Heavenly Father. He knows, and we don’t. That’s not an accident.
His sovereign, eternal mind can handle it all, and we can’t. He created us to have limits. Our bodies can only handle so much work, strain, and stress each day, and our minds are no different.
In His mercy, He allows us to see yesterday – to learn from its mistakes or successes – as well as this moment right now.
The Creole proverb is right. Beyond mountains there are always more mountains. And as humans, in our weakness, we’re easily overwhelmed by their heights. Knowing the name of each mountain to come would surely immobilize us.
Yet when we look back, we can’t deny God’s presence, His strength, His grace. And the exhilaration we’ve known as we reached the peaks of life’s biggest challenges. I survived that, we remind ourselves. And it becomes a beautiful part of our testimony.
Would we have chosen it had we known ahead of time? Probably not. Our energy probably would have gone to praying against it, begging God for something else – anything else.
But it was there, that place of struggle designed especially for us, that we met God, that we saw Him work. We saw our lives transformed and learned that He is real, that He cares.
So why would tomorrow be any different?
Yes, there will be mountains. I won’t minimize that. Mountain climbing is painful, sometimes impossibly so. Sometimes God will move the mountains, and sometimes He won’t.
But there will always be help. Supernatural courage. Grace. Peace. Joy. God’s presence.
Whatever your future may hold, what you’re worried about today, I pray you’ll rest in Him. He held you together yesterday. And you’re in His hands right now. That’s never going to change.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Thank you, my dear blog friends for taking this journey with me!
As I’ve written the stories of God’s faithfulness to me, now releasing them in my memoir, you’ve been alongside me, cheering me on.
I want to cheer you on as well.
I know you have your own stories of incredible struggle, perseverance, faith, and God’s grace.
You may not have an ending in sight yet. You may be in the thick of the stress or the pain.
Maybe you’ve made it through dozens of stories already, but today find yourself in yet another place of frustration. That’s how life seems to go in this broken world.
But I pray that you’ll read these pages I’ve written and find refreshment.
You’ll find distraction, for sure. (Ha!) You’ll find a struggling, weary woman getting caught up in some crazy, frightening, and hilarious situations.
You’ll find disappointment, cynicism, confusion, and surrender.
But most of all, I pray you’ll find evidence, once again, that God is completely able to carry you and every last burden you’re shouldering.
It’s a privilege to continue this journey… this walk of faith together with you!
Hey dear friend!
You’re going a little bit crazy right now, aren’t you?
There are some really great things about school starting up again, right? But oh my, the energy it takes to make it happen!
And if I’m not mistaken, school is not the only thing going on in your life. Chances are, you’ve got a heavy load… quite a bit of stress, more responsibilities than you think you can handle, and a lot of questions for God about how it’s all going to work out.
That’s where I am too. And I want to pass on two things that are shining hope into my soul right now!
First, God’s Word. It is so relevant and powerful.
Here’s a taste of what God is feeding me these days:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. —John 15:5
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:29-31
Secondly, I’m finding hope by looking back. As I remember the strength God supplied in the past, I know He’ll be faithful today and tomorrow.
Which leads me to a big announcement!
In a Sun-Scorched Land: A memoir of adoption, faith, and the moving of Haiti’s mountains is coming out this fall!
As in REALLY soon!
Writing and editing this memoir has been God’s gift to me—a way to constantly be reminded of his faithfulness through some insane experiences. (Corruption, break-ins, a shooting, a never-gonna-happen adoption process, child falling off the roof, earthquake… Remember some of these stories?!)
I’ll share the details soon. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available for pre-order. But for now, I just wanted to say that it’s coming. And that it’s a testimony to me that God is going to see me and you through anything the year ahead of us may hold.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
There’s almost nothing worse for a mom than seeing her child in any kind of pain.
For some of us, it’s been the little things so far… the scrapes, the hurt feelings, the normal childhood disappointments.
For others, it’s been even deeper. Our kids have been through more than some adults we know.
But the Source of comfort is the same for all of us.
For some insights on how to help your hurting child find the comfort Jesus offers, click over to Club 31 Women.
You never stop moving.
Your work never ends, and your kids need everything you can pour out.
You already know what you do:
On and on the list goes.
And when you forget why you’re doing it, what the purpose behind it all is, you grow weary.
I know I do.
But every little mundane part of your life shapes your kids.
And you’re the warrior.
Your calling is so much greater than just making it through the day; you’re in a battle.
Don’t underestimate the beauty and power of your role.
You’re a Warrior Mom.
Join me at The Better Mom for more on raising arrows.
While my ideal summer involves breezes at the beach, good books, blue skies, and refreshing drinks, that’s not really happening so far. I may get a few of those precious days before summer’s over, but my reality involves plenty of work and varying degrees of stress. You too?
That’s okay, though. Because true rest happens on the inside, no matter what’s going on outside.
I need rest, and so do you. But it’s not about sitting on a beach chair. Well, not all the time, anyway.
Join me at Club3Women for more on How to Keep Stress From Stealing Your Joy This Summer.
It seems so strange, doesn’t it? This choice of words… laughing at the days ahead?
But there it is.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25
My brow has been frequently furrowed as of late. How about yours?
But maybe that’s telling us something. That we’re human… yes. We’re made of dust and we are indeed weak and often fearful.
But I think there’s something else. I think we’re quick to focus on our problems… the world’s problems… and forget Who’s in control and what our responsibilities are.
There’s something to the laughter of the Proverbs 31 woman. Something we need pretty desperately today.
(Join me at Club31Women for more!)