Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

The whole house smelled like the sharp scent of Windex and furniture polish, mixed with something delicious baking in the oven, and the vacuum was always running. Mom gave us all a job to do, to get ready for their arrival. My grandparents.

As soon as I finished my chores, I would stand at the door and wait. I stood so close, my breath would appear on the cold glass. And I would draw smooth lines with my finger. And my heart would rise and fall with the passing of each car. Until finally, it came.

Their big cream colored Cadillac stopped in front of our house. And my heart leaped.

When you’re eight years old–you don’t wait for people to ring the doorbell. (Especially when you’ve been watching out the window for a half an hour.) And you don’t give them “courtesy time” get out the car. No. You run. You race down to greet them in your socks.

You nearly climb into their car before they can even climb out. And you cover them in hugs and kisses, and cling to them like a starfish, so they can barely walk.

Have you ever had that feeling of longing? Of waiting so long…it physically hurts?

(Click here to read about infertility and longing for a baby at Christmas.)

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m expecting a baby a boy in less than four weeks. And I’m longing to meet him and touch his skin, and look into his face.

Or, maybe it’s because we just finished a very a ugly political season. And I’m watching rioting in the streets on my TV. And the world seems dark. And in need of a Savior.

Either way…I’m feeling this longing. This expectation. This need for Jesus. To be here.

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

(Please on’t think I’m super spiritual…because I didn’t even know what “Advent” meant until a couple of weeks ago. I thought an Advent calendar was a paper calendar with chocolates inside.) (And it is, in many grocery stores.)

But I didn’t know Advent is so much more.

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

And I just found out that people celebrate the “season of Advent.”

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

You  know how the sky grows darkest before dawn? How it seems so black, and then slowly it turns blue, like that deep, glowing blue, that gradually turns pale blue…and then the dawn breaks through? The light pierces the dark?

That’s Advent. Like watching the dark sky, and waiting for those first gentle rays of light.

Because the world is dark. And we are all waiting, quietly, desperately for Him. For Jesus. To come.

In years past, I guess I have “tried” to celebrate Advent. I tried to print something off Pinterest and force my 18 month old daughter to do the readings with me each night, while she screamed and ripped up the papers. I tried to force my husband to do this “tradition” with us, that I read was supposed to be so meaningful.

But since everyone hated it. (Including me.) It only lasted about a day.

(Maybe someday, we will figure out some wonderful Advent tradition that works for our family… )

But for now, I’m realizing: I need it.

Instead of trying to drag the family to do something I want to be “meaningful,” maybe I’m the one who needs to find something meaningful in this season.

I’m thirsty for it. For Him to show me who He is.

I feel Him prompting me to “behold” Him. I don’t really know how, but I feel like you can’t “behold” someone, or something in a two-minute rush (like I usually do). It takes some time.

So, I’m trying to learn how to behold Him, And His coming. And I’m celebrating the season of Advent this year. The season of darkness before the light, the season of waiting, and expectation, and longing so bad, it hurts.

And I’m celebrating by myself. Because I realize: I need Him. And until I am able to “behold” Him—I can’t help anyone else to do the same.

So I bought a book on Amazon, called “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. And It’s a book all about Advent. A book about “His coming.”

I know Christmas will come either way. All the Black Friday Ads are coming in the mail, and the hustle and bustle will start us all racing to December 25. We will do gift exchanges, and parties, and try to make our homes warm and beautiful, and full of light.

But what if the preparations don’t need to be done so much outwardly?

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

Because there is something about preparing a place. Inside. Like the Christmas carol says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

When we would prepare our house for our grandparents to come, it wasn’t just about work. It was about anticipation. We could all feel it in the air. It was in the expectation of standing at the window, and watching for them.

I feel that Jesus is calling me to prepare a place for Him. Maybe I’m not the only one who is desperate for His light to pierce through?

Maybe He is calling you to prepare a place for Him this Christmas, too.

Maybe you will stand at the cold glass door, and wait for Him. And watch for Him, to come.

And when He comes…

When He comes…you won’t wait for Him to ring the door bell. Or to get out of the car.

You will run out in your socks to greet Him. You will run wildly, like the father ran to meet His prodigal son while he was still coming up the road. You will cling to him like a starfish, so he can barely walk.

When you see His light appear, you will fall down and weep before Him. You will behold Him.

And He will hold you, and He will not let you go.

And this “beholding” is what Christmas is all about.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1-2

If you feel the night is black right now, hold on. Christmas is coming.

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


For more encouragment about infertility, motherhood, or marriage follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the box on the right of this website. Or, “like” the Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, by clicking here. For more Christmas posts read “When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You,” or “Christmas Is For Desperate People.” 

Why I Couldn’t Be Happier About Starbucks Red Cup This Year

starbucks red cup
Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year.

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people.

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

Red Cups Redeemed, Thank You Starbucks

starbucks red cup

Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year. 

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people. 

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

#StarbucksforJesus #redcupsredeemed

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

This goes out to every woman whose heart aches to be a mother, but finds herself still in waiting. May these words soothe your soul if you are in this place, or otherwise break your heart for those who are. This guest post was originally published on MomLife Now by a beautiful writer named Sasha and I am honored to share it with you:

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

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Christmas can be the most joyous time of year. The pitter patter of little feet running out on Christmas morning. The squeals and shouts, the laughter and excitement. . .

Not everyone will feel such joy. For many this day is a sharp wound. Piercing deep in the mother who has yet to hear herself called by this name. She who has tried and tried again, only to see another negative stick, another baby lost in the womb. The adoption at a standstill–again.

To you, dear momma, I have been thinking about you. My heart unable to push you to the back of my mind. With every visit to Santa’s lap I have ached for you. I felt the hot tears fall onto my pillow last night, brushing your searing pain. The emptiness which tries to engulf you.

But what good are my tears to you? I tried to make them worth something. A prayer.

~~~~~~~~~~

God of the childless mother,

She may not have a little one who calls her “momma” just yet, but she is a mother still. Your definition of the word starts with the heart, and hers, tenderly longing, is tenderly felt by you.

I see her as she smiles lovingly on my own child, helping him pick up his cheerios just spilled across the floor. I see her as she acknowledges my shy little girl, telling her just how beautiful she looks this morning. What an incredible mommy she will be. I feel such joy for the soul who will be so blessed as to call her such.

Today though, her own soul, it’s so wounded. So desperate.

Meet her at her desperation. Give her the patience–the miraculous patience–she needs.

I see so many “mothers.” Mothers who leave their children, who neglect them, beat them, shame them. They keep on having more babies. Babies who will live through hurt and suffering. Then, I see her. She who would love her child more than life itself. God, why is she the one having difficulty? She who deserves so much to be a mother! If I struggle with this question then I know she does too. I know her hope fades thin.

Revive her hope. Hope for a day when she will find herself face to face with the child you have destined for her. Mothers come in all different shapes and sizes. Show her the path to take.

When all seems hopeless, bring your hope. When all falls dark, shine your light. When life slaps much too hard, bring your arms of comfort. Hold her God. For although a mother is her desire, your daughter she is first.

Christmas day, which could bring such pain to her tender heart. May it be a day of hope, of sweet longing for the future. A reminder that one day she too will hear the pitter patter of little feet–feet running straight to her.

Hold her tight this Christmas. She needs you.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” ~Deuteronomy 33:27


Sasha is a wife and mom of two who loves to open up about the realities of motherhood at her blog, MomLife Now. For more from Sasha, you can also follow her on Facebook.

Christmas is for Desperate People

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To My Daughter on Christmas,
I realize Christmas may seem a little confusing right now: This week you saw a glowing tree magically appear in our living room. (Then you were yelled at for touching it.) We went to the mall story-time and you got paper antlers and jingle bells to wear. Christmas music blared and as we strolled away, you saw a very long line of kids waiting to sit on an old man’s lap. Later that night, I dressed you in your new red and pink reindeer pajamas–but you kept calling them, “puppies.”

I know you are not yet two, but even at twenty-seven, this holiday can still make your head swirl. But someday, I hope you can see what Christmas is really about, and that is this: Christmas is for desperate people.

Last night, as you pulled all the ornaments within your reach off our Christmas tree, you kept pointing to one in particular you called, “baby.” We haven’t talked about this “baby” yet. But He is the reason we have Christmas at all.

See, a long time ago, the world was full of desperate people. And it was dark, and sad, and in need of a Rescuer. Remember how I told you I used to cry because I had to wait a very long time for you to be born? The earth was waiting for a baby too. But this was no ordinary baby. He was the Rescuer. He would rescue people from death, and despair, and darkness. Because the people loved darkness, they kept running further and further away from God. They didn’t know His love yet. What they needed to see, was a God who would run towards them. A God who would come close. At any cost.

God had been silent a very long time. But two thousand years ago, in a barn, in the starlight, in the straw, His teenage momma pushed out His warm, slippery, little body. And the moment this “baby” let out His first cry–the silence was broken forever. Between God and men.

And as His mom held Him on her chest and felt His skin against hers, she breathed out His name, “Jesus.” “Immanuel.” It means, “God is with us.”

And He was.

God had come. Skin to skin. Breath to breath. And soon, blood for blood. For the desperate. For the sinners. And that’s what that “baby” means. That was the beginning. Of God coming close to us. Of us being brought close to Him. Forever.

Sadly, some people don’t really know why we have Christmas. They try very hard to be happy and make it mean something, but they don’t know that the only reason to be happy is that the Rescuer made a way for us to be saved from going to a very bad place, and that we can be close to God now. Forever.

I’m telling you this because you are going to see big presents and flashing lights, and hear Christmas carols, and there will be cookies, and ugly sweaters, and people rushing around buying gifts. There will be little Santa’s and big inflatable ones, and reindeer, and movies, and ads for toys, and itchy dresses, and family photos. And I give you full permission to enjoy those things. But those are extra. They are not the main thing. Christmas is about Jesus.

And He came to save people enslaved to sin. To free people from addiction. He came to cleanse sinners in His blood and clothe the naked in His righteousness. He came to take shame away. He came to feed the hungry with good things, to make rich the poor, to set captives free. He came to give Living Water to the thirsty, so they may not thirst any more. He came for brokeness and unhealable pain. He came for the lowly. And for those who thought they were really holy. He came for people who would break their marriage vows. And for all the people who would be wounded by it. He came for girls that would take off their clothes for attention, and men who would take off their rings for satisfaction. He came for people with cancer, who would be healed in the life to come. He came for abused people, and sexually confused people. He came for depressed and anxious people, and those paralyzed constantly by fear. And shame.

And He came for people like me. Because, though you don’t know yet, you will know soon that: I am desperate. And I say this with tears: I desperately need Jesus. I need Him. He is life to me.

Me and your dad: we are desperate people. We are weak and sinful. We get angry. We do bad things, we think bad things. But in Jesus, we find an invitation to come. Not because of who we are, or what we’ve done, but because of who He is, and what He’s done. Are you desperate? I pray one day you will be.

Because of this you can be sure—He is coming back again. Not as a Baby this time, but as King. And He’s coming for the desperate. And only for the desperate. “For all those who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8) And when He comes back He won’t appear as weak and lowly, but exalted and glorious. King of the earth. He will ride in on a great white horse, wearing many diadems, and He will be called: Faithful and True. On his robe and on his thigh will be written: King of kings and Lord of lords. And all the armies of heaven will ride in behind Him. And all nations and people will fall down before Him. And when He lifts His voice, the only ones who will rise will be, the desperate. Desperate for Jesus. And they shall enter the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and be satisfied forever. And nothing shall separate them from His love.

For God himself will be with them.

Immanuel.

So if you want to celebrate Christmas, my dear, we shall. We will celebrate the only way we truly can: as desperate people. As those who long for His appearing.

Love,
Mom

Photo Credit/Teamaskins

When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You

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This Christmas season my almost-4-year-old daughter will “help” decorate: She will yank on the Christmas lights, and break ornaments, and stick her fingers in the cookie dough.

But it hasn’t always been this way. There were many quieter Christmases at our house.

I remember just a few years ago, my husband and I were putting up the tree. And as I pulled out lights and ornaments from the red and green storage bins—I found our stockings.

I guess it’s just instinct to reach my hand inside. Maybe a stray Snickers bar? Some leftover Christmas candy? I immediately felt something in mine.

But what I pulled out of my stocking was not candy.

It was a another little stocking.

Almost like a…baby stocking.

I’m not sure where it came from or how it got in there. But as I held the tiny stocking in my hand, a pang of sorrow filled my heart. I couldn’t help but think of the little baby I had desired for so long. As I touched the fabric gently in my fingers, warm tears rolled down my cheeks and the Christmas lights blurred around me.

I longed for the little one I could one day hang this stocking for. The patter of little feet. And the sound of laughter.

I held the tiny stocking up to  my husband, and tried to force a smile, with tears coming down my cheeks. He came and sat down on the couch next to me and pulled me into his chest, holding me in his arms. More tears came then.
“I just thought,” I said, as tears streaked slowly down my face, “We would have a baby by now.”

“I know,” he whispered and stroked my hair with his fingers. “I know.”

It seemed like forever then, the waiting. The not knowing. The trusting. The wondering if God would answer. And when.

Tonight, that little stocking hangs on our mantle. For two years it’s hung. And the one for whom it hangs sits with me here on the couch and lays her sleepy head on my lap. And as I slowly stroke her blonde hair with my fingers, hot tears run again. And Christmas lights blur. Selah.

My Precious Selah,
Our nights aren’t silent any more. They are loud with screams, and cries, and laughter. But when you go to sleep, and me and Daddy are left alone, sometimes I sit and remember the time before you. And I grow silent once more, in awe and reverence…because of what God has done. And I think about the way He came close to me during the years of silent nights, and my silent cries for you. When your name was but a whispered prayer. A dream in the night.
Selah.

You were worth every minute I waited for you.