Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

You can hear it so many times that it excites you about as much as the side of a cereal box. Maybe less. Especially if you’ve grown up with it all—those carols and those words. Sunday school, church, Awana, VBS.

Again, and again you hear about the baby born. His miracles. The cross. Until you stop hearing at all. Or maybe you hear, but you’ve lost the wonder. The awe. The faith. 

Maybe you’ve done better than I at keeping sight of “the real meaning of Christmas.”

Then again, maybe not. 

Maybe, like me, you really wanted to show your children the real miracle that Christmas celebrates, but with all your Pinterest surfing, food list making, and out-of-town-company preparing, you forgot. 

For me this holiday season, the truth has crept in gradually, like the slow approach of a faintly burning light in the dark. 

This year has been so difficult, and I’ve felt stretched in so many ways…

Spent the first two months out of the country in Scotland for the birth of Little Bear (our fourth boy and last child; a lump to swallow by itself), and then had to transition to life back in the States. Battled fatigue as I’ve been woken by baby every night for the past twelve months. Struggled to balance my role as wife, mother to four rambunctious boys, writer, cook, organizer of too much stuff, chauffer, friend, and homeschooling mum. Took in a friend’s daughter for the summer. Opened our home to friends—a family of six—for seven weeks while they sought out a new home. Made do with chaos while we put on a small extension to our home. Helped more than one person move house. Pounded at Heaven’s doors for the souls of those yet lost.

Looking back on the four years since immigrating back to the States, it’s not hard to see the other challenges and losses we’ve encountered, like the burglary to our home three years back.

And in one way I feel shattered by it all. Bedraggled. Weary both body and soul.

In another, the shadowy places we’ve trudged through in the past few years have only made the greatest gift—the one believers in Christ Jesus claim to celebrate at Christmas—shine like never before.

For his gift—the gift of eternal life through belief in the life, death, and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself God—is one that can neither be lost, stolen, damaged, outgrown, or in any way taken away. Such a gift!


This is the gift I will be sharing with my children and other family members on Christmas, and there is a very simple way you can do it, too, with items you most likely already have in your house.

  1. Wrap up five items in Christmas paper – something broken (a toy?), something outgrown (baby clothes?), an empty wallet or purse, and a figurine of baby Jesus (or picture of the cross), and a heart (a Christmas ornament?).

  2. Gather your family round and let them open the parcels one by one, explaining the meaning of each as you go along, using the suggestions below . . .

  3. For the broken item – Is this toy new or old? Have you ever had anything break? Things don’t last forever, do they? They can stop working or break.

  4. For the outgrown item – Would this fit anyone in the room? Clothes don’t last forever, do they? We can outgrow our clothes, or they can get holes in them and wear out.

  5. For the wallet – Look inside the pockets. What has happened to the money? Has it been stolen? Spent? Lost? Money doesn’t last forever, does it? It can be spent, stolen, or lost.

  6. For the Baby Jesus – Who does this figurine represent? Did he stay a baby or grow up to be a man? Yes, he grew up to be a man and died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins.

  7. For the heart – What is this? Yes, a heart that represents the love of God. If you believe in your heart that God died on the cross for your sins and that he was raised again back to life, then God gives you the gift of eternal life to be with him and others who loves him forever. No one can take that gift away from you. It is the only thing that can never be lost, stolen, broken, or taken away from you by anyone.


Merry Christmas to you all! 

~ Avonlea 

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 I sit and hold him,

cradled warm and snug against my chest.

Trace with my eyes the curve of his ear.

Run my finger along the plump softness of his cheek.

My son. My baby. My last.

A smile tugs at his lips.

“He’s dreaming of angels,” they say here in Scotland,

of fluttery newborn smiles.


In the background the voices of the boys choir of Kings College Cambridge

pour out The Holly and the Ivy,

one of my favourites, though I never knew it till I came here.

And I thought I’d have girls. Lots of them, born in the summer.

And yet this is the third Christmas I’ve sat with a newborn, a son,

(the Professor came in the spring)

wondering at this new life given to my care,

as I also wonder about the other baby,

whose birth we celebrate this time of year.


What brings more wonder than a baby,

a new life?


Nothing at all, I would say,

except the life of that baby,

the one born in a stable,

who lived not only his life,

but because of his God and man-ness

is able to know intimately the minute details of the lives of each one of us.

A baby. A man. But also God.

A God who sees.

A God who knows.

A God who cares.

Cares enough to live among his creation,

and here face death

to give each of us the chance

to live again.


A new world, a new life,

through him.


Your life,


made new through him.


I’ll have plenty of time to drink it all in tomorrow.

The carols, the mince pies, the sweetness of my newborn’s breath,

and the wonder of the birth of my Saviour.

But you’ve been kept waiting,

and so let me introduce him to you,

my newest wee manie.

We’ve called him Charles.


Wishing a merry,

the VERY merriest,

of Christmases to you.

And enjoy this gift of music from The Piano Guys.

If you haven’t ever heard them then you really, truly must.

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I’ve heard it before.

So often my eyes glaze right over.

A stable, not a palace.

A manger, not a throne.

Yes, I know.

The King of the Universe,

our God,

here, on earth, in a human body.

A small one.

A cuddly bundle,

all silky skin and baby breath.

With his big brown eyes

and wee legs kicking.

A little baldy.

Or maybe an absolute

mop of curls.



But reading the words,

writing them down,

my mind still can’t grasp it all.

Because there’s a door, and though the Light shines through all around it, 

it’s black, and it’s shut, and I can’t seem to turn the handle to see what’s inside.

And you wouldn’t think that anything could blind it,

make those beams seem a little less bright.

But somehow, the twinkly lights and inflatable Santas,

somehow, they all just DO.

Because after all, the whole world’s singing it. Belting it out like it’s no big deal.

Silent nights and angels singing.

Little towns and receiving our King.


And so of course–of course–it’s hard to awe.

Hard to grasp.

But what I can see with those golden beams shining–

when I cup my eyes to shut out the rest–

is the wonder, absolute wonder

that God would care

at all.

That He’s in love,

so in love,

with us, with the world,

that no matter what we say

or do,

no matter how hard and fast we’re running

in the opposite direction,

He’s there.

Eyes waiting to catch ours,

hand outstretched.

That He doesn’t just sit there

high on His throne,

calling, whispering

into the moments of our lives,

but He came down to join us mortals.

So close He could cook us breakfast

(like maybe toasted fish on the beach?),

so close He could kneel down in the dust

to wash the sheep dung from our feet.

He went to those lengths

because for some strange reason

He loves us that much.


Now that is something to wonder over.

Something to feel happy about.

That is a God we can worship.

A God who deserves our very selves,

who deserves our hearts.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

~ Christina Rossetti

Avonlea x

Find me on . . .

Instagram/Facebook/MeWe @happylittlesigh

Happy Little Sigh

Finding beauty in the everyday ❤

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We arrived late morning, just in time to see the tail end of the die-hard Black Friday shoppers toss another piece of plastic in their over-laden carts before struggling to maneuver them to the check-out.

I couldn’t help but wonder,

did they even like that stuff?

Did they need it?

Or had they been tricked?

But I was there, too, of course.

I was there, or I wouldn’t have seen it.

I was there, and armed with the page from the paper that showed the great deal on the bathroom set I was after. Bathrobe hook, hand towel loop, toilet paper holder, plus a few more.

And wasn’t I excited to keep the hand towel off the floor, where the children always leave it, and keep the toilet paper roll out of the toilet (or so I hoped).

But of course those items were just one of many on the long, long mental list of things I’d like for the house.

And of course once we’d stopped at the mall to let the children burn off some energy at the play area, and I took a stroll past H&M, I began think about my other list. The list of things I’d like for my wardrobe.


It’s intoxicating, you know, the mall is.

Every sense assaulted from every side.

Starbucks coffee, cinnamon rolls, perfume drifting from the department stores. The feel of silk, and faux fur, and leather. Nat King Cole crooning, and the Salvation Army bell jingling. The displays of clothes and furniture all looking so perfect, so much better than anything we have at home.

Couldn’t a person just get lost in it?

Caught up in the frenzy of buying

and trying

to fill the hole inside.

And while I went home looking forward to the giving

of the few gifts I picked up,

I also went home aching,


feeling anything but PEACE.


Because I know, though I never quite believe it,

that I am blessed beyond measure,

and that the more I have, the more I will want.

And though I tell it to my children,

what Christmas is all about,

and though we’re finding more ways of giving,

more ways of loving this year,

I find it’s still easy

to miss the point.

To miss the heart.

To miss PEACE.


I love the Christmas season.

Love it more each year.

Love the baking,

and the making

of sugar cookies,

paper snowflakes,

a wreath for the door.

Love candles glowing bright,

and singing Silent Night.

Love spotting a red cardinal

perched on a branch of lacy snow.

Or holly berries, and their leaves of thorns.


But what I needed on that day,

and what I need on this,

and what I desperately want my children to see,

is that the point of Christmas,

the heart of it all,

is found in His heart.

In the heart of Jesus,

and His love for us.

In His love we can let go of all the trappings,

all our unwritten lists,

all that haunts us in the wee hours of the night,

and we can simply rest.

Cling to Him, and be at peace.

“For He Himself is our peace.”

~Ephesians 2:14



As you light your second Advent candle this Sunday, remember the PEACE we have through Jesus. Hear Him whisper, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid.”

Avonlea xo

Happy Little Sigh

Finding beauty in the everyday ❤

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“The Holly and the Ivy,” King’s College Choir, Cambridge University, England


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A Dozen Cosies to Warm Your Heart  & Your Hands and  Bless Your Week . . .

  1. Spread a blanket and have a picnic lunch inside. Or a candlelit picnic at night when the children are abed?

  2. Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers and divide them up in jars around your house. Don’t forget your bathroom and your bedside table. And don’t forget to give them a smell.  

  3. Rake some leaves and jump in the pile. Go in and warm your hands and your soul with some tea.


4. Bake something with cinnamon. Apple pie?

5. Go for a walk and pray until your nose and cheeks are red. Then go in and warm up with some tea.

6. Watch Anne of Green Gables and laugh and sigh when Anne is “in the depths of despair.”


7. Make a cup of tea and cradle it in your hands while you read the Bible. Psalm 42?


8. Make a big pot of soup. Calcannon, an Irish favourite?

2 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced

Chicken or vegetable stock/broth

Herbs and salt to taste

200 grams kale or cabbage, shredded

300 ml cream

1. Heat butter on low. Add onion, garlic, potatoes, cook for 5 minutes without browning.

2. Pour over enough stock/broth to cover, season to taste.

3. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add the kale/cabbage, bring back to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Pour in the cream, ladle and serve.

9. Sprawl out on the carpet and listen to some favourite songs. Maybe this, by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins?

10. Invite some friends over without worrying about the house. Light some candles. Serve tea.

11. Stand under a tree, look up, and watch the leaves fall. Try to catch one.

12. As many times as you can remember, tell your spouse and your children how very much they’re loved. By God. By you.



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I don’t go there every night.

Sometimes I’m held up.


For night is the end of another day, another twenty-four hours that seem to have taken me no closer. No closer to my dreams. To my goals. And so in my worry I mull them over.

Dreams, goals, regrets . . .


Dreams for this house, like those black and white photos of the children I want printed out and framed, and the upcycled furniture I’d like when we finally remodel the breakfast room.  I could lie awake for hours planning it all out in my head. As if someday I’ll get there, you know, to my real life, my forever life, where every closet and drawer is organized and my house is decorated like a Pinterest fantasy.

My real life, where I’m fitter and stronger and have smoother skin than I did at eighteen.

My real life, where I have hours every day to sit in the garden and paint, and read, and write, and play with the children, and somehow the cooking, and cleaning, and shopping doesn’t take much time at all.

My real life, as if it’s a place where I’ll one day arrive. As if one day, everything that needs to be done will be done.

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It’s easy to forget with all that planning for tomorrow. Easy to forget that my children will never be as young as they are today. That I will never be as young as I am today. That we can never get today back.

It’s easy to fill my days and fill my mind and hold onto these plans, these goals, as if this is all there is.

But then I catch myself. Lying in my bed at night, I remember. I feel the smallness of myself in this universe. The frailty of my body as I lie there on the mattress listening to my baby and my husband breathe. Even if we eat nothing but organic, they are not forever.  I am not forever.  For a while. A good while, I hope, but not forever.

And as a wife and a mother, how could I sleep with that, how could I live with that if I didn’t know. If when my children realize that the end will come for me, for them, and the tears pool in their eyes, I couldn’t lift my little person onto my lap and hold him close and whisper “Yes! Yes!”

And If I didn’t know, if I hadn’t seen, that what He says more than anything is “Fear not.”

“Don’t be afraid!”

And so I go.


Sometimes I creep, when I feel how much I’ve missed the mark. How I’ve let Him down that day. With head hung low I crawl toward Him, always toward Him, because I know He wants me there. That He’s happy, miraculously, not just to welcome the repentant but the reluctant and the angry, too.

I lie there by his feet and soon there comes His hand upon my head. “Daughter.”

Other times I run, through a field of wildflowers and hazy sunlight, my arms outstretched, and I meet Him. I meet the warmth of His robes and the strength of His love, and like a little girl I’m lifted and swung. “Child.”

The colors blur, and I know that’s home. That’s forever.

And there’s peace.

Peace like Lucy clutching Aslan’s mane and burying her face there and knowing it’s going to be all right.

No matter what, I’m safe, and it’s going to be all right.

And what could be more important than having them with me?

There in that field. In those arms. In that eternity.

There, when this house and everything in it, and every worry I ever had will be long gone. There, where everything  will finally be complete and time . . .

well, it will just stand still.

We’re all together, with Him, and time is standing still.


This house—will they even remember? The color of the walls, if the furniture was scratched?

And if they remember, will I let them think it’s worth a wisp of worry?

Or will I reach out and grasp hold of this time, these hours that slip so easily into days and years, and

instead of making lists of all that’s wrong,

make lists of all that’s right?

And will I help my children, and each person beckoned through the doors of this house, to smile over every seen and unseen gift, every finer thing, and to point them, always point them, to the Giver?

And how can I remember where to point unless I keep my eyes there,

always right there

on His face?


For YOUR watches of the night . . .


1Peter 1: 3-9, Psalm 91: 5-9, Psalm 63

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The Thaw Begins – photo by crunklygill

“‘Yes,’ said Queen Lucy. ‘In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.'”

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