Birthing a new song

There were no big production spotlights, save for a single illuminating star in the night sky.

There was no red carpet, but musty hay to lead the way. With a muffled sound of gathered sheep and a baby’s cry in the distance, it seemed a very ordinary night.

But singing, oh there was singing. Rejoicing as our Savior was born, even in the midst of unexpected surroundings and circumstances; there was a resounding song of praise. The angels sang of the glory of God come to earth, and I am betting that Mary’s song of praise continued as she held tightly, not just to her little miracle, but to the One she would share with the world.

You see she sang before that moment in the manger. Before Luke 2, was Luke 1 – Mary magnified the Lord. She had heard the promise, and before she ever saw her miracle in tangible form, she praised.

Birthing is hard work. I can now testify to that fact, as we celebrate our 9-month-old daughter’s first Christmas! I have a whole new appreciation for Mary birthing Jesus in a stable. “You go, girl!” might be appropriate at this point. Seriously, way to go Mary. No fancy hospital or modern medicine, but a promise to lean in to as she gave birth to her first child… the reason we all have a ‘baby’s first Christmas’!

You see, before we ever experience a miracle, an answered prayer or promise, I believe a song in our heart can lead the way. Before the “new”, comes the song. I listened to a sermon this week about the Israelites and how many times they were commanded to sing unto the Lord (Exodus 15). There are over 400 verses in the Bible about singing, and 50 specific verses commanding us to sing! Worship prepares our hearts for the promise. I wonder if without it, we would miss it entirely? I wonder if worship prepared Mary’s heart to receive the promise, however He would come.

Timothy Keller says that “In religion, you worship God because He is useful. In Christianity, you worship God because He is beautiful.”

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend, whatever season you are in – receiving a new promise of hope for the future, birthing something new and feeling the hard work, or celebrating God’s goodness in your life – may your heart be filled with a song this Christmas. I hope you pause just long enough to sing a new song, and lean into the gift we have in Jesus. He is so so beautiful.

Merry Christmas to you all! xo

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Monday Minute: Bowed or flustered?

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The day was like any other – the sisters were hosting, yet again. They’d become known for it – the way they made people feel at home in their home. It was a gift. Yet on this particular day, the guest was unlike any other. Not ordinary; it was Jesus.

Martha was busy in the kitchen – distractedly serving and getting everything ready for the evening meal. While Mary was enraptured in the sitting room, hanging by every word that fell from the lips of Jesus.

Frustrated, Martha marches out of the kitchen. Her tight bun was now loose, mousy brown hair everywhere. Remnants of flour and oil remained on her clothes. Sweat dripped from her well-formed brow.

Knowing He carried weight with her sister, and knowing He always hears her, Martha spoke up.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Hands flying everywhere, and then finally resting exhausted at her side, as though ready to collapse.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

***

What I love about how Jesus relates with these sisters, is that He always has compassion – on both of them. Citing Martha’s name twice usually means He’s trying to get her attention, but also doing so lovingly. The Bible said she was “distracted with much serving”. In the Message version, it says in vs 38, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.”

Usually Martha can get picked on in this text. But never once does Jesus reprimand her or make her feel badly – He kindly and lovingly points to the better way. Clearly Martha was gifted in the areas of homemaking.

If I knew Jesus was coming, I would’ve been fussing about getting the home ready as well – just like Martha. But Mary, bless her heart, decides to sit at Jesus’ feet, in His presence.

At first glance, from the perspective of someone like Martha, this looks lazy and uncaring. But even amongst all the doing and serving to be done, she still ‘chose well’ –to listen and be still.

Mary’s position was bowed and waiting, Martha’s position was flustered and distracted.

How real can this be of our hearts? I can sit down to spend time with the Lord and a million things run through my mind of what to do next (and we don’t even have kids yet!). I think what Jesus was saying was – even amongst the distractions and all the things you need to do (good things, real life things), choose a bowed position of heart, and I will meet you there.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, I hope I can still the distractions, and sit at Jesus’ feet more. Whether it’s while doing dishes or driving to do errands, I want to be more conscious of the position of my heart this season – am I bowing and waiting, or am I flustered and distracted?

Burlap, boughs, and berries: An inexpensive way to add Christmas decor

Yes, I am one of those that is dreaming of the Christmas decor as soon as Halloween is over. Since it snows so early here (first big snow fall today actually!), I figure we may as well find something cozy and beautiful to enjoy inside while the earth gets covered in a snowy blanket for the next five months!

With a baby on the way, I am ever more conscious of what we’re spending right now, so I wanted to share with you an easy and inexpensive way we added some coziness and Christmas to our bungalow.

Burlap! Boughs! Berries!

I had some burlap leftover at home, but with the 40% off coupon from Michaels (they have it every week!), I was able to grab another roll for $4.50. Win win! I find it’s been useful for tucking into our Christmas tree to make it look more full than it really is, as a tree topper, and around mini tree pots and our chandelier.

Troy came home one day with a handful of boughs from Home Depot for $5, and I, of course, went and bought one more set. Cedar? I can’t remember! But they smell delicious and he knows I looooove that smell! Using burlap and boughs, I decorated the chandelier over our dining table. I’m hoping it lasts until Christmas!

Red berries come in handy in many ways – on our Christmas tree, tucked into garland, and on our entry-way coat shelf, mixed in with some boughs. You can find them at the dollar store, Michaels, or stores like Walmart.

If you’re feeling your budget is a little tight this Christmas for decor, you could spend anywhere from $20-30 just getting some burlap, boughs and berries (and throw in a candle!) and it will add so much coziness in such an easy fashion. Here are some pictures of our home below and how I have used the triple B 😉

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Making Room: Beginning of Advent

822a5380957f4b043861df588a209120Micro-apartments are on the up-and-up in American cities like New York and San Francisco. As people move to the urban centres for opportunity, school, and careers, space unfortunately, has to grow up (the European way to build up, not the Albertan way to build bigger). People need to become more and more inventive with what they do with the space they have. 300 sq ft and smaller is not at all uncommon in metro living, with a 450sq ft studio recently going for $340,000 in NYC. The micro-apartments appeal to people looking for lifestyle, over, well, stuff.

People create home and make room out of whatever space works for them at the season of life they are in. Whether it is 300sq ft or 2,000 sq ft, you can work with what you have, and make it homey. You move things around, purge unneccesary items, and make room for what is really important.

The concept of ‘making room’ is one that has been on my heart for a couple of years. It’s something that can thread into almost every area of our lives really. From fashion to time management to my relationship with the Lord – I felt a need to simplify. Make room for something else, so to speak. And in order to do so, in means letting go of one thing to make room for something else.

When I moved and got married this summer, I purged a lot. It was a good opportunity to ask myself, “Does this need to come with me into this next stage of life?” For me, ‘making room’ has meant saying yes to things only out of a desire to be involved, rather than obligation. Buying things that I love, rather than just because they’re on sale (that is STILL a work in progress for sure! And it’s a bonus when it’s something I love AND on sale!). And letting my time with Jesus be less about a program or system, and just making time, and letting Him speak and lead me. Sometimes being silent is harder than finding the words to pray 😉

As advent has begun and we begin to prepare our hearts for Christmas and celebrating Jesus, it can be so easy to get caught up in ticking things off the shopping list and filling our social calendar. All good things! But just as someone can make a 300sq ft space beautiful, let’s take the time to let the Lord meet with us, and make our hearts beautiful; whether we are a micro-apartment or mansion at heart.

Wherever we are at, whatever stage of life or hurt we come to Him with, I am certain that if we make room, Jesus can fill it.

“Let every heart, prepare Him room…”

{ on the topic of making room and creating beauty out of what space you have (metaphorical or literal), this weekend I took a stab at making these sheet music stars that you can hang or use as tree decorations. our little space needed something Christmassy even though we move in about 10 days. here’s the tutorial if you’d like to try them too!}

music star

Make Room

The alarm blared as it went off early that December morn,
Kate rolled over, pressed snooze, and went back to where it was warm.
She’d asked and begged and pleaded til her knees were dark blue,
Lord, I need an answer, just what am I to do?

It appeared He was silent and Christmas was almost here,
But Kate would soon find out that her sign was very near.
The snow had fallen fresh throughout  the frosty night,
Before she knew it, a noise on the street caused her great fright.

Kate in her fuzzy slippers grabbed her purple coat,
With morning hair and breath to match as she threatened someone’s throat.
Whatever are they doing at this time of day on my street?!
At the end of her sidewalk was an orange sign waiting at her feet.

Making room for plowing, said the sign as she looked to and fro,
She moved her car and bid adieu to the man she’d never know.
A hot shower and a prayer, she stood their staring,
At her overflowing closet, trying to decide what she should be wearing.

I need to make some room in here, there’s just too much stuff.
She added it to the list of reminders – and that was enough.
Out the door with mismatched clothing and bright red lipstick,
Katie’s heart was heavy, still looking for that click.

Doesn’t God care, that I really want to know?
It’s a big decision and I’ve hardly time to be slow!
Work that day was busy, she hardly caught her breath,
Papers and phone calls blurred her mind ‘til there was nothing left.

Someone in the lunchroom had the gull to clean the fridge,
Making room for Christmas food – We need more than a smidge.
Driving home that night, she’d really had quite enough.
Her heel had broke, her stomach growled, she was tired of being tough.

Her Christmas list was long, so to Wal-Mart she went,
Even though her day had left her feeling completely spent.
The greeter he did smile, and the carols filled the air,
As she weaved from aisle to aisle, all she could do was stare.

Excuse me, she did ask to the clerk in a bright blue smock,
Why the bare shelves, you’re almost out of stock?!
The gentleman he smiled, as though waiting to be asked,
Out with the old and in with the new, we need room for everything in the back!

She paid for her items and drove home in silence, deep in thought.
No words came to her lips, just tears that kept getting caught.
For in that moment she realized, her busy day told her what she should do,
Make room, make room, for all that I want for you!

If I had prepared for Christmas as though Jesus were coming to stay,
I’d have found a parking spot, closet space, food for the fridge and chased the busyness away.
And here I am asking God for a sign of what my decision should be,
And all He asked was that I make room, so that He could come stay with me!

Christmas comes just one time a year, and we fill it with running and such,
Let’s not forget to make room for the King, and wait for His loving touch.
And the next time we wonder, “What should I really do here?”
The most important thing we need to do is make room for Jesus to be near!

Let every heart make room for Him.
Let every heart make room, for the King.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Copyright 2012
Lani Ledingham