music (again!)

I've been spending quite a few hours playing with my garage band this week.

do you think i mean this?:

don't they look like a fun couple?

 i actually mean this:

it's a program on my iMac that is helping put together a very homemade,very rough disc for a special gift for a special someone
(who doesn't read this blog...in case you think it's YOU!).

i barely know how to use the program, but it's been pretty fun experimenting.  the kids and i laughed our heads off at recording our voices and then altering them to sound like we just sucked in helium.

but the real blessing of doing this has been playing and singing worship songs over and over and over again, in an attempt to get a reasonable recording.

this time of year that's so marked with frantic rushing...
the unfortunate tendency to replay and overthink conversations...
the burden of feelings recovering from being hurt...

all of these things are pushed away,
at least for a while,
as worship overtakes my heart.

i write quite a bit about music and it's power.
i think a lot about why and how,
but mostly i'm just thankful.

i know music doesn't have the same affect on everyone,
but for me,
it's transforming.
it expresses the things my heart doesn't even fully understand
and heals in ways i can't explain.

thank you, Jesus.

Rise up, O Lord, in all your power.
      With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts.
ps 21:13

(and now back to work, or this gift will be for next Christmas!) 


looking back

I've already been thinking about New Year's Resolutions.... am I crazy or just so 'on the ball' that I'm way ahead of schedule?  haha.  Actually, I've just been thinking about why one resolution makes the cut and another doesn't (and why that darn 'exercise more' one never sticks?...).  It's occurred to me that my resolutions are almost always born out of how I experience Christmas, or at least the Christmas season.

Last year at this time, I was very overwhelmed.  I hated every moment of gift buying for my beloved family, I left the wrapping to the last minute, I only ended up getting out about half of my Christmas cards, I baked almost nothing and I cried at the drop of a hat. I had frequent heart palpitations and slept a lot.  I avoided parties and spent a lot of time thinking about moving to the mission field...  I felt so, SO much pressure - mostly pressure I put on myself, I'm sure.  I was overwhelmed with the feeling that enough is never enough, and for a (recovering) perfectionist, that is a very tough pill to swallow.

In the light of all this, then, I can easily recognize where my single resolution came from last year.

"Be Becky."

(read the post if this just sounds too crazy for words.. it might help you understand.)

Looking back over the past year, I think I've done a pretty good job at my resolution.  I've felt more secure and worried less about being a pleaser.  I've said no to many things, but initiated other things.  I'm learning to rest when I'm tired and scale back on the things that drain me.  I've read (almost) all of God's word and haven't given up even when I was 2 whole months behind!  I've prioritized my family, found more joy in my ministry and am trying to stop obsessing about the things the world tells me I should obsess over.

Overall, I feel lighter, more at peace and have experienced more moments of JOY.  I don't feel so desperate.... like I'm always missing something.

So, you may ask, what will my resolution be this year if indeed it relates to how I experience the Christmas season?

Well, I'm not sure I'll make one.  If anything maybe it will be *see last year's resolution.*  I have a long way to go in myself and this journey with the Lord, and I pray that as I continue to look to Him, He will add (and subtract) the things I need in my life to bring me closer to Him - a little bit more each day.

Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.
psalm 9:10 (nlt)



No one does Christmas music quite like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir!

They put out their second Christmas album last year and it's just as great
-uplifting, inspiring and energizing-

I blast it every morning that I'm able to get ready for the day by myself.
(go figure, my kids are always telling me to turn the music down!)

This one has really spoken to me.  

Messiah, Saviour, Holy One, Redeemer-

Such a beautiful name for Jesus...God with us.

The other morning, I got dressed and made my bed with tears on my cheeks 
as I played this song over and over.

Oh how I need Jesus!  
I need Him and I'm assured that I am His, He is mine.
Oh how we all need Jesus!
But some don't even (yet) know of their need....
some have never been told,
some haven't (yet) really heard...

What joy is there without Him?
What hope?
What freedom?

Why do I ever try to survive for even a moment on my own...?

family favorites

I mentioned in my last post that we have a small selection of Christmas themed books that stay tucked away in storage for all but one month of the year.  Some of them are silly, some of them have meaning, some are just colourful retellings of the Christmas story.  

As I pulled them out one by one, my heart was full of happy memories reading together.
Here are our top 3 faves:

find it!

This sparkly board book was a treasure when I came across it because it provides a beautiful way to share the real meaning of Christmas while enjoying popular Christmas traditions.

best line from the book:

"The tree that's green when others die
Tells us Jesus came and why...
To give us life, and so we say,
'This Christmastime and every day
Live in us, dear Lord we pray.'"

find it!

A dear friend gave us this book long before our elephant-crazed daughter was born.  The illustrations in this book are the most adorable, and it was the book that caused us to fall in love with little Humphrey!

best line from the book:

"Lottie draws a lovely letter for Father Christmas,
remembers to leave a treat for Rudolph,
then puts her babies to bed.
Mummy reads a special story all about baby Jesus
and has an extra long cuddle."

find it!

We discovered this book at the public library and immediately went out to purchase a copy.  This book was "our story" in 2006 and it made us cry. (and i mean us).

best line from the book:

"Mortimer sniffed.
Moritmer snuffled.
A tear rolled down his furry cheek.
'There was no room for you in the inn. 
But I know where there is room,' he said.....

...He laid the baby in the manger.
'This belongs to you,' he said.
Mortimer smiled.
'You look warm and cozy now.'....

....There was no place for Mortimer to go except back to the cold, cramped, creepy hole.
As Mortimer scuttled down the tree, he said a prayer:
'Jesus, you were born to save the world.
Perhaps you could also bring me a home?' .....

...'Thank you Jesus,' said Mortimer.
'You've made room for me, too.'"

(ok, so that's WAY more than a line....)

What truth from a child's story.
He makes room for us, too.



I might be a little slow, but sometimes I don't even know we have a family tradition until the kids remark on how we always do _________ at Christmas time!  What a delight it is to see their eyes light up at the sight of sameness.  How fun to see them treasure the little things.

Like yesterday when they came home from school and first spotted the garland going up our wooden bannister - monogrammed stocking hung with care....

Then they spun around the corner to see the tree set up and ready for our annual tree-trimming party....

our "family tree" - full of child-made and treasured ornaments.
i love it every year.
As they race around the house spotting all the Christmas-y effort I had put forth that day, they ran down to the rec-room and found the stack of Christmas books we've been collecting since our eldest was a baby.

I pack these away each year with the ornaments, and so I never really know if the kidlets will think they're far too mature for the books from one year to the next.  I had "big blaze" roaring on the tv (another holiday tradition around here!  hey, don't make fun....), and the kids snuggled up on the couch reading all their old favorites.   (more on that in another post.)

oh, big blaze...

I'm also a little relieved that after years of being told "don't touch!" they only have fond feelings toward my tiny (and precious) nativity set.  They are now allowed to touch it....carefully! :)

Now that the most hectic part of my Christmas busy-ness is over, we are looking forward to lots of snuggling near the "fire" and marshmallow-y hot chocolate (Christmas mugs came out too!).

May you have plenty of time with your loved ones this year - you never know when you're (unintentionally) creating a new tradition!
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