Merry Christmas!

Every year it seems one Christmas carol stands out to me; instead of its words running over the floor of my brain, some actually dribble down through the cracks. Here is this year’s gem. “O hush the noise ye men of strife” has, ironically, become my new battle cry.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

-Edmund Sears, Richard S. Willis

Christmas Vacation

Sweats and socks aren’t pretty, but they sure feel good at day’s end. Besides, with Luke gone for the evening, there is no one to impress. He took the girls to Zoo Lights with the youth group, and I don’t expect them back until late. Time enough to think over the events of the day. This morning’s Bible reading was in John. A few weeks ago, our pastor listed a ‘top ten blessings in Christ’, and as I copied them down, I noticed how many of the Scripture references were in John. The next evening at BSF, a lady shared how she was stuck in the airport and decided to read the book of John, and ended up reading the whole book while she waited for her flight. These two ‘coincidental’ mentions caused me to think I should read it, too. Right now in BSF’ Moses study we are going through Leviticus, and I am far enough along to take a break (I am needing one, to be honest). John seems like just the book to dive into. Yesterday’s verse that stuck out to me was John 1:7- He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. I got to thinking about that being a little h- meaning it was John the Baptist through whom those will believe, and what a privilege he had. But then I saw the ‘all’ there, too- God never does anything halfway or halfhearted. His intention was for John to use all his God-given abilities to perform the tasks given to him, with the goal that all might believe in Christ through him. Wow. How little of my day do I spend doing, even thinking about doing, everything to His glory and that my actions might lead others to Christ. I need to be constantly reminded of my awesome privilege and responsibility to be a witness, first to my family, then to any others God puts in my path. So I was excited to sit down this morning and see what more there was to see in John chapter one. I didn’t have to look far- verse 16 is so rich. For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. Again, there is that thought of God being a superabundant God. My computer didn’t give me a spelling warning for that word, of which I am surprised, since it seems like a word you’d make up. But I am glad it is a word, because that is what He is like- He gives, and gives, and gives some more. Other verses that talk of fullness, and, incidentally, most use the word ‘all’, too, are: Ephesians 1:23; 3:19; 4:13; Colossians 1:19; 2:9. So good. I didn’t mean this to be a Bible study post, but it has been neat to see these things in His word. I have started looking for the word ‘all’ in John- found three times so far, just in the first part of chapter one. I started my Christmas puzzle today- it is one we got last year and I put together then. But three or four pieces were missing, and I collected it all in its bag and put it away, only to find some puzzle pieces in Adon’s bed later on. I put these with the puzzle, vowing to reassemble it this year, to see if they really do go with this puzzle and I do (miraculously) have all the pieces to it now. Maybe I will post a picture of the result. Last night we did something for the first time: went out to town and left Aliyah and Sarah in charge! A is 14, S is 12, soon to be 13 in February, and both are very mature and responsible. Still, I have dragged my feet at leaving so many at home with them just because sheer numbers bring such wild cards to the game. We did take Elijah, since he is nursing and probably the highest maintenance kid. The kids kept the phone, then we would stop at hot spots and email them to check up. It ended up being really fun and I didn’t get as nervous as I thought I would. The kids just sat and watched a movie, and the evening went really well for them. We’ll probably do it again soon. We were able to get some more Christmas gifts last night, and only have a few more things we want to get for the kids. Luke does the bulk of the Christmas shopping; when I realize how big a job this is, I am grateful all over again. But he says he loves doing it: thinking about what each child would like, and trying to make it happen. The gifts are all under a tarp in the basement. Older kids have been down to do laundry, but the gifts are in the dark part of the basement and Luke has given them all the lecture of how bad they’ll feel if they peek; then it won’t be a surprise on Christmas morning. I don’t know if they have or not. I used to peek as a kid- there was a weird closet that went under the stairs of our split level in the Plains, and my parents would hide gifts there. Other years I remember touching the presents all over to discern where the cardboard was and where the lumps/plastic wrap was, and after a year or two knew exactly what a Cabbage Patch Kid box felt like. I regret that, now, but at the time I remember still being pretty ecstatic at Christmas. Plans are to have my parents up to breakfast, then open presents. We have a Christmas Eve service at church, then a lasagna dinner, but other than this there are no other set plans.