The Christmas Story: Oh Night, Divine

Hi guys and gals! As we count down the days to Christmas, I’m looking forward to writing about The Christmas Story. Not “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie in the bunny pajamas, although I love that movie, but The Christmas Story, the coming of the long-awaited Messiah nearly two thousand years ago. 

But first, I need to ask your forgiveness for my delay in picking a winner for the {Minted} Giveaway! We were traveling back from Thanksgiving in Atlanta and it totally fell off my radar! So, powered by Rafflecopter and, here is the randomly-selected winner of $50 at Minted:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Debbie!!! I’ll be emailing you the details so you can head over to Minted and enjoy choosing something from their beautiful collection!

And a big thank you to all who entered! I hope you enjoyed checking out the unique stuff on Minted’s site and please keep dropping by, I think we’ll have another giveaway soon! Now on to The Christmas Story…


It’s funny that the stories of each of my small people’s births start in the night, or perhaps, more specifically, the early wee hours of the morning when it’s still dark. The Bear’s marathon labor all began with my water breaking very early one morning, and the Belle’s sprinting arrival jumpstarted with contractions around three or four AM.

Most especially our darling Tank was a late night arrival — and we were so grateful. The empty streets at 2 am were what allowed us to rush to the hospital, and what made it possible for me to give birth in the hospital instead of in the car on the way to the hospital, which seemed like it was going to be the case.

It was strange to consider: while the world around us was sleeping, this big event had taken place. Our friends and family would wake up to hear the news: the six-days-overdue little Tiger of ours, or the Bear who arrived exactly on his due date, or the Belle who definitely took her time and then made haste, each finally made their lovely appearance.

Luke’s account of the Birth of Jesus tells us that He made a similar appearance, that while they were in for the census, “the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Next, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” And to them, the angels appeared, declaring the Good News of the arrival of the Messiah, the Lord.

It is worth stopping to wonder — why was Jesus born at night? Why not during the day where more people might’ve been awake to hear the news or see the angels?

Perhaps it was partly for His own protection — knowing there was a King waiting to find this very child and put an end to the beginning of the change of history forever. The less people who knew about the Christ’s arrival — in this fragile, early stage — the better.

Perhaps it was protective for Mary and Joseph as well — the animals in the stall serving as the only witnesses to this miracle-made-flesh.

I wonder if it wasn’t also for you, and for me, too.


Jesus was born at night and it’s easy to notice the symbolism. The stage was set on one dark and Holy Night for the Light of the World to arrive into a world of darkness. A world that deeply and desperately needed a Savior.

Many of us would say these are dark days — we fear the decisions of our governments, we see children starving halfway around the world or around the corner, we watch the news of how 10,000 people can lose their lives in a single day, due to a single Super-Storm crashing onto their shores.

But those days were dark, too. The people of Israel waited, desperate for a Messiah to deliver them from political oppression. On the throne sat a king willing to wipe out a giant mass of baby boys in order to secure his place of power.

The Light of the World didn’t just arrive into the literal darkness of night. He also appeared on the scene of a dark night of the collective souls of the people He would deliver.

And the truth is right there: He didn’t just set the stage for the greatest life ever lived. He set a pattern for how He first operated, and how He continues to operate.

Jesus arrives in the dark night of the soul. He arrives in the dark places where we see no hope, we see no way out.

He brings His powerful presence into the situation. And though we might not at first perceive that He has arrived, or that He is at work, yet things have absolutely changed forever — already.

He arrived, with Presence, as I sat on the floor of a hotel room on one of the darkest nights of my soul — knowing that, short of a miracle, the loss of my Dad was imminent. His Presence didn’t immediately change the reality of the situation, 2,000 years ago or seven months ago.

But His arrival was a sign of Hope that brought great Peace. Like a voice declaring:

Behold — deliverance is at hand. Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices.

Something spectacular is taking place.

Perhaps that first arrival is also an important foreshadowing of the second: one glorious day, He will come again. On that occasion there will be no mistaking Who is making an appearance. And everything will be set right for all eternity.

But for now, let’s not miss the meaning of that great Light, arriving in the darkness.

Remember, dear ones, when you are in the midst of a dark night of the soul, when you’re in a dark place, the stage is set for His arrival. Turn your gaze ever so slightly — like a shepherd looking up at the sky at night — and I trust you’ll get a sense of the One who can bring Peace into every situation, the One who is always with us.

The One the named God With Us.

He was with us, in the dark, long ago, and — glory, glory, absolutely Hallelujah — He still is.



A Wee Three Years Ago Christmas Eve Discovery

Late one evening three years ago, on a chilly Southern Christmas Eve, two little elves scurried out on a last minute errand. They hadn’t forgotten a gift or a card or an ingredient for a Christmas treat. On a tiny inkling, they tip-toed the aisles of a Walgreens, until they found what they were looking for.

Staring at boxes boasting early results and better accuracy, the elves discussed the choices quietly amongst themselves and came to an agreement. They gingerly presented the goods to the cashier, made their purchase, and hurried home.

Half an hour later they stood in an upstairs bedroom, staring at two pink lines for the second time in ten minutes. They laughed and cried and wondered and marveled at this special gift from above. The timing of this surprise discovery could not have been more magical. To this day the elves agree: that gift is by far the best Christmas gift they’ve ever received, bar One other Gift of immeasurable significance, which actually arrived in a similar fashion, around 2000 years earlier.

It feels safe to say the very best gifts don’t come in any boxes at all.

Merry Christmas,

Christmas, Interrupted

Merry Christmas, guys and gals! Are you A) getting excited for the joyous celebration of the most important birthday ever, or B) stressed out by your to-do list? {If you answered B, can I suggest there might be a few things you need to drop from the to-do list so that you can better enjoy the joy of the season?}

I’ve been enjoying considering how Jesus interrupted time, coming down into humanity to show us how to live and to save us from our sins. This video demonstrates some different options on how people might handle the “interruption” of Jesus in the storybook of history, and I thought I’d share it with you.

Notice that some folks are eager to move on and get out of the way, but others take the time to appreciate the special moment unfolding before them. (Even if that means taking video with an iPhone.)

May we also soak in the Reason for the Season, focus more on the Presence than the presents, and appreciate the joyous moments at hand!


Travelling Tuesday: Twas a Bloemin’ Good Christmas

Today was supposed to be a Travelling Tuesday in the literal sense, as we had planned to head back to Gordon’s Bay on this bonnie Travelling Tuesday. Well, we actually planned to head back yesterday and take a couple of days to get home, and then decided that wasn’t such a nice way of making the trip. And when we realised Mark’s sister Lyn was flying out yesterday, we thought it would be stinky for us to all leave on the same day. So we we pushed it back a day, and now another, to get a few last errands done here in Bloem and enjoy just a bit more time of seeing the Bear with his grandparents. It brings joy to our souls! Sorry if that was a lot of info — anyway, tomorrow will be a Travelling Wednesday (for us) instead!

In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a wee review of a few Christmas highlights from our adventure in Bloem. In case you missed TT last week and you’d like to know a little more about Bloemfontein, check out this post.

We had a warm and sunny Christmas. The Bear revelled in his freedom from the bondage of clothing, and often went naked or (more often) just had a nappy on (since he’s not potty trained yet and we got tired of cleaning pee pee on the patio).

Yay Summer

Mark’s Mom’s amazing ice cream cake dessert made a sparkling entrance…

Dessert with Sparkle

Mark and I decorated the vintage Collie tree. We afterwards discovered we’d used the top and bottom sections (leaving out the middle section) which meant the branch sizes of the two sections didn’t exactly uhh...match up.  I think it turned out pretty anyway.


The Bear is enjoying his new toys, and sometimes seems to wonder…Should I pway wiv dis one or dat one now?


And, as previously mentioned, I HAD BACON COVERED CHERRIES AGAIN!!! YAY!!! If you missed the discussion, check out this post for a well worth it how-to.

That Happened

Tomorrow we’ll be saying bye-bye Bloemfontein and the adventure will continue as we head back to Gordon’s Bay. It will be sad to leave but we hope to be back again soon. The travel never seems to stop!! I’ll be back online with more thoughts, more shots and hopefully more general merriment soon! In the meantime, I hope the road rises to meet you wherever your travels take you next!

It’s a Bloemin’ Good Christmas!

It is good to be in Bloemfontein. As you know, the bacon-covered cherries have made my Christmas. I thought I’d share a few pics of the grandson my Mom and Dad are missing so much. I am missing them! It was AMAZING how quickly he figured out the three easy steps to prezzie time: #1 Rip paper, #2 Rip more paper, #3 Find toy inside!

The Bear is currently presiding as King of the Collie Castle…

MTV CribsHe’s thinking about trying out as an extra for MTV Cribs. I’m gonna have to say n-n-n-o.

These were the humble beginnings of the paper ripping fest…

This is How it Works

We got him a “laptop” in hopes that he would leave ours alone and play with his.

Get Your OwnAfter the first paper-ripping session had delightful results, he started getting into it…

Gettin The Hang of ItThank you for the prezzies, Auntie Lorna! We REALLY like ours, and as you can see, the Bear really likes his…

I Like This OneThe accompanying elephant became a teething toy a few minutes later. 🙂 And this was the aftermath of all the prezzie-rippin’ fun.

The AftermathMerry Christmas from Bloemfontein! We miss you, G.C. and Grandpa! We’re having a good time in the southern hemisphere, but we can’t wait to be together again soon!