Tag Archives: Christmas

How the Babe Stole Grinchness

23 Dec

It’s been a really hard year. The kind of year that sinks it’s cold teeth into you and chills you all the way through. A year filled with moments of darkness, feeling hopeless and asking God difficult questions. Moments of waiting, endless waiting. Silence when I just want a comforting voice.

At times I’ve felt tested and tried and slightly heroic through it all, seeing the purpose in everything and the warmth of my forced bravery. Mostly, I just feel like I am tattered and tired, stuck in a perpetual tumble dry cycle hitting the edges with a loud clank.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s been the best year of my life.

The bundle of joy currently talking to herself from her crib in the other room, on this Christmas Eve eve at the magic hour of 3am is my game changer.

Everything about my life has flipped on it’s head, and I can’t even write a personal, self-aware blog without feeling a little silly.

A few years ago while I was still fighting that early-mid 20’s reality check of getting “old,” a women who had a good decade or so on me said something that rattled me.

“Your 30’s are so much better than your 20’s, because life is no longer about you.”

As I am currently living the last half a year of my 20’s, I couldn’t be more relieved.

I used to make a big deal about how I wasn’t really into Christmas. I couldn’t stand the annoying music or get into the traditions. I blamed my “Grinchness” on the pull of materialism and the lack of real meaning in our culture. Now I find myself changing the radio station not to avoid, but to seek out those familiar songs.


As old and tired as Mariah singing about all she wants for Christmas and hearing another butchered rendition of Oh Holy Night are, it’s the first time my daughter gets to hear any of this.

It’s not even so much the fun of toy shopping, but the awe on her face when seeing a Main Street twinkling with lights, her smile reminding my tired heart how All Things Become New on Christmas.

So I am exhausted. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t have any answers. I am tired of waiting. But there is a grand scheme of things and she reminds me.

I am so glad life isn’t about me.

I sing her those songs sang a thousand times, those words that were once soaked in meaning from telling The Greatest Story, and as I do they become rich again.

I know as a writer and lover of metaphors there isn’t one more powerful than the stark, mad pain of pushing a human being out of your own dark body into the light. It’s the closest thing to hell and heaven in a moment and it changes you deeply.

And I think of a young girl, bone-weary and aching, still reeling over the scandal of her swollen belly, laying in the dark in a barn, questioning if all the angel told her was true or if she was just insane.

(How could God use me to carry this dream for the world, this perfection, this miracle? How will I do this? What will become of us?)

Then the waves of pain came, the sweat and screams and the dark, dark red vision.

And then a searing white and a head first dive into the coldest waters.

Suddenly warmth.  A system-shock of the most undiluted love in tiny human form.

Joy, to all the world, in her arms.

And a weary new mother rejoices.

Because she knew every ache and pain, every tear and sickness, every moment when her body couldn’t move right and she had to keep her eyes open when she just wanted to drift off to sleep, was all worth it.

The world was anew and life was no longer about her, but God’s seemingly insane and backwards plan to bring redemption to all the humankind.

And so we sing and celebrate and eat and give and count it all joy when we go through hard times.

Because light always trumps darkness, good and love always win. 

And sometimes it takes a baby to remind us.

Tiny Lights, Tea Cups and Snowflakes

27 Dec

The other night I went to a Chinese Lantern Festival in Dallas. I walked through scenes that looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland or Willy Wonka. Beautiful lit-up sculptures looked ordinary until you got closer and realized they were made of out teacups or thousands of tiny vials filled with colored water.

Chinese Dragon made out of China

Things look different when they are filled with light. 

At 2 am Christmas day I cried tears of frustration during a rainstorm while sitting in my car in the middle of the road on a hill about a mile from my apartment, after in my busyness of last minute christmassy to-do’s, I  forgot to get gas. Then I laughed for awhile, because what else can you do while waiting there helplessly for your rescuer?


Later in the morning I cried again in the shower after hearing my families voices on the phone, water running over my head, mixing with my tears making them obsolete.  And I thought on how I bury my emotions, how I talk myself out of missing people, how I think I can make it alone.

“Sometimes you need to let people take care of you,”

A wise, close friend spoke, a simple statement in the context of a simple conversation, but it hit my chest and exploded in my heart.

Sometimes you need to let other’s light illuminate your own dark places. 

And I drove on Christmas day through rain, thinking melancholy thoughts, trying to allow joy in, wondering about the hows and whens of unforeseen days. Everything outside was soaked and shivering, grey and cold.

And I almost stopped breathing as I exited off the treacherous highway to a familiar road, the closest thing to a consistent home I have had in my inconsistent life the past few years. In a moment of unexpected Christmas magic, raindrops turned to white flakes, as if by exiting I had entered some secret portal into a giant snow globe. The white stuck to the ground, cleansing the surroundings and allowing hope to barrel into my heart, like a child flying down a hill on a sled.

I let the day unwrap before me, a gift of exquisite design in the form of familiar faces, breaking crescent rolls, warm and smooth choclate-y drinks, hugs, unexpected laughter and kind words.

I allowed my mind to dwell on these moments, to shove out the age-old worries and fears, anxiousness about life’s timing.

From now all your troubles will be out of sight. 

And I appreciate that Christmas is at the end of the year, because it is, in a way I understand more and more, a wrapping up of a year of bounty, a celebration of light and color, a glimpse of hope for the coming year.

We all know the story behind it like we know the over-sung tunes, but how this story of grace unfolds looks differently.

Sometimes it looks like thousands of ordinary household dishes, sculpted carefully together and lit up with lights to make something extraordinary.

Sometimes it looks like waiting in the pouring rain at 2 am and realizing yet again I am helpless on my own.

Sometimes it looks like pure white covering a barren ground,

or one tiny twinkling light, a part of a strand of a thousand, overcoming the darkness.

Part B: The Redemption of Jekyll & Hyde

22 Dec

This time of year everything is magnified.

All of the year seems to come to a head.

The good done.

The bad that still exists.

The ugliness of consumerism.

The beautiful idea of gifts given with no strings attached.

(Is that possible? Can a gift really be a gift? Can we, who thrive within a system of reward and punishment, truly understand grace?)

This Christmas, It would be good to acknowledge that I have no love outside of the love of God in me.

My attempts are always rooted in self-gratification.

There are no naturally pure motives.

I cannot give without wanting to be given back to in return, or to have people see my gift and think I am a good person.

I cannot love without desiring that person to make me feel good, to fulfill my emotions, to boost my ego.

I cannot even write without wanting people to read these words and think of me as spiritual and humble.

The truth is, I am selfish to the core.

I look out for number one.

I see myself as apart from others, as capable of creating my own world around myself.

Me, left to my own doing, will destroy myself.

There is no love in me.


It doesn’t stop there……….

The tables have been turned.

I am not left alone to destroy myself.

By an insane grace I cannot even begin to express through my writing,

I have been saved,

from myself.

from the wretched and lonely idea I have to make it on my own.

from the disgusting belief disguised as religious piety that I can somehow conjure up some kind of love, some kind of godliness.

And that, that is my new reality.

At times I feel split, a regular Jekyll and Hyde.

Image by Jean-Thomas Louvier

How could I taste such Pure Love one moment and such bitter humanness the next?

How could a vessel so filthy be filled with a Spirit so pure?

I know myself, I know my motives, I know my deep dark hidden thoughts.

(But they are known greater by Someone greater.)

This christmas, it would do me good to remember there is nothing good in me apart from Christ,

but I am not apart from Him.

That’s where the story continues.

It doesn’t stop in my own pain, my own grossness.

It isn’t the truth because maybe you are impressed I am being this self-deprecating, this vulnerable.

(Even that can be another boost to my ego. Ewww.)

It doesn’t end at a realization of my own poverty.

I can’t just believe God to be everything and me nothing, it can’t end there.

Or I will stay in the gutter.

I’ll never be the person God made me to be.

I’ll never be Jesus to the world.

You see, the end of the story matters just as much as the beginning.

Part A:

I once was lost.

I once was blind.

Part B:

But now I am found.

But now I see.

This is the grand paradox, the tension we all live within.

We come from dust and return to dust.

We are poor, filthy, wretched beings,

and somehow

We are light,

We are glorious eternal creatures.

We are unstoppable, indescribable beauty.


He came.

He walked.

He loved.

He died.

He lives in us.

So we could realize our nothingness in ourselves and our everythingness in Him.

This is it.

This is my story.

This is my song.

This is Christmas.

10 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

20 Dec

There are mornings I wake up and immediately believe two lies:

1. That today is just another day.
2. That I am jut an ordinary human being.

I forget:
1. I am breathing. Life itself is a miracle.
2. I am a hero on a journey.
3. Everything is mine, because it was given to me.

I want to believe these impossible things before breakfast.
And the list continues:

4. All things worth having are a gift.
5. I already have everything that everyone is searching for.
6. Nothing is worth more than this day.
7. Epic stories are in me, waiting to be told.
8. I am loved extravagantly, I with all my counted flaws I stupidly keep track of in the darkened mirror.
9. Everything is finished. The struggle is believing that.

Speaking of number 7, all this feels like a fairy tale at times, a place like Narnia or Middle Earth or Oz, like falling deeper down the rabbit hole or taking the red pill.

Can I believe in what seems to be a story? Or is it that the stories tell a greater Truth that our world can’t grasp?

What is the reason these stories seem more alive than our “mundane” lives?
Why do they resound so deeply within our broken frames?

Could it be because they are the way we understand The Story?

And so I bring you number 10:

10. God came as a human infant; bloody and screaming, into a dark stable reeking of manure. He grew, walked among us, healed the sick, mended the broken, tore down the old system of religion, ate with the whores and criminals, loved all. He was murdered and came to life, defeating death forever, giving us the greatest gift: himself (true life) to all who believe.

Because of #10, because I am a character in This Book, I can believe the other 9 impossible things before breakfast.

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