Tag Archives: advent

He gave us Himself

The greatest gift of all, a Savior, Jesus!

gifts he gave himself

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” -Sigrid Undset

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3.16

And isn’t all our gift-giving just a variation on the amazing theme of God’s most amazing gift? If I can just include, somehow, a little of myself – infused with the love in my heart towards the recipients: good gifts! Even on Cyber-Monday, ha!

It’s that time of year again…I cannot help myself!  :)

sig keep christmas

“Christmas Eve” Font: http://bythebutterfly.com << see lots of other great fonts

The Days Leading Up to our Savior’s Birth – The Jesse Tree!

It’s almost CHRISTmastime!
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Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

My sister-in-love, Robin, is an accomplished communicator and teacher.  She has poured her heart and soul into creating an incredible, heirloom-quality resource available to families for Christmas. The Jesse Tree connects the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the glorious story of God and His amazing plan of redemption all the way from Genesis to the birth of Jesus and beyond.

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A Jesse Tree is decorated with ornaments symbolizing the people of the Bible, the prophecies and the events that led up to the time our Savior was born!

A Tradition that Matters

If you end up feeling frustrated at the end of the Christmas season for how little time was spent getting to know the story of Jesus better, HIStory, plan now to use the Advent season as a time of worship and discovery.



Each beautifully handcrafted ornament will become a lasting imprint on the hearts and minds of your children, your family.  Understanding will grow, joy will be increased, and you’ll be helping your family know how to explain the hope we have.

“…in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. ” 1 Peter 3.15 NIV

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Read more about it here: aliciahutchinson.com

Each set includes: 28 ornaments – one for each day of Advent, a book of devotions and Biblical references (written by Robin) to go with each ornament and a sturdy, divided storage box for storing this keepsake set safely.

Meant to be enjoyed again and again throughout the years with your familia, each set is $95 (plus $7 s & h).

Limited sets available, shipping this week! Quick – get yours!

buy now


A Lullaby for a King…and for “Christmas Eva”

I actually posted a very short peek at Evangeline the other day and I decided I wanted to use the whole song by The Isaacs, “Messiah Lullaby.”  So, today’s song for Advent:

This is just footage Tredessa has texted to us during Eva’s first few days home (she is one week old today!).  Tre sent me higher quality versions, but I like these.  I love these peeks into the dim lighting and mommy and baby getting acquainted.

And the song is so sweet, too.  I am a big fan of The Isaacs.  In the middle, their mom sings in Hebrew, I think.

Anyway – I have loved Advent.  Now we are on the brink – we’ll commemorate the birth of the Savior of the World!  Almost time for the rejoicing to begin.

mary yes

But just before that, the hush, as we remember  how Mary, the one who said “Yes, Lord – be it unto me as You have said” gives birth and holds in her arms the very King of Kings…

Evangeline being born just before Christmas this year has made it all so much more easy to imagine.

We welcome Christmas Eva.


And Jesus – we welcome You again and again into our lives!

Prepare the Way! Advent music filling the air over here

BIG announcement below…

I have never actually seen an Advent-Music category at a music store and while I do have a pretty high stack of Christmas records (the old vinyl kind, ya know) and CDs, I don’t have an Advent music category.  I am just visiting all styles and types of music with words that seem appropriate for this high-church tradition of the days leading up to the {12} days of Christmas, as evidenced by most of my blog posts these last 2 1/2 weeks or so.

baking day just getting started

What I am doing is trying to make sure I just take a few minutes,  the length of the time of the song, to observe these days from a perspective I was not raised in (I come from the day-after-Thanksgiving-to-the-day-of-Christmas-is-just-a-mad-rush-to-but-to-bake-to-have-a-gazillion-church-activities-and-parties-and-then-collapse-in-utter-fatigues-the-end variety) and think about {in expectant waiting and preparation} Jesus – and all His coming changed, the first time…

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;  on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9.2

And I don’t want to be as blind and as busy and as un-expectant as those who may have missed Him the first time.  We are people of the Light and we just live like…nothing is different (I included you in that sentence so I wouldn’t have to take all the blame, *wink).

So for Advent, I am remembering that the Light, Jesus, He came and that we’ll be celebrating that in a few days.   But that He is not finished and He has gone to prepare a place for us and He will come again and we are looking for Him, preparing for Him and waiting for this momentous occasion with expectant joy, on earth as it is in heaven!

Today’s happy-song of watching and waiting: Prepare the Way by Charlie Hall

Prepare the way, because we still can for so many living in darkness.  An oldie, but goodie.  :)

I didn’t post yesterday (because of something BIG). But I did observe Advent in probably its’ most recognizable heart-longing way, which I shall explain…

I won’t tell the whole story here, but there will be details to follow, I am sure.  BUT, on Sunday, we had our Annual Girl’s Baking Day at the house.  We get together with sugar and flour flying through the air.  Nuts are chopped, pretzels are dipped, chocolate is melted,  icing is squeezed…and at 6 pm, all the guys show up and ooh-and-aah over tables and counters full of Christmas treats and sweets.  Every year, we cut back, waaaaaaaay back.  And yet yearly, there are just mountains of sweets and Christmas treats – it is crazy!  But then everyone has some festive goodies to get them to December 25th, or to share with neighbors and friends.  It is ONLY once a year!  Because otherwise….no bueno.

baking day 2013

So, we did that on Sunday.  Ay-yi-yi!  We worked our buns off.  And Tredessa, completely pregnant, with a baby due THE NEXT DAY, worked and worked and worked!  We were hoping she’s go into labor because of it.  Instead, we wore her out!  And me, too – the doula!

9 pm…whew!  Tired.  Everybody leaves, everybody is exhausted by the merry-making.  Everyone has been up since before the days-shortened dawn.  Then, suddenly…her water breaks at that moment, at that least-expected, boy-we-could-sure-use-a–good-night’s-sleep moment as she was leaving.

We get to the hospital a couple of hours later and blah-blah-blah…

EVANGELINE WAS BORN!  *happy-dance*  *singing and rejoicing*

She came at 1:23 pm on her “due date.”  She was 20″ long, weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces and has some curly looking honey-colored hair and is just gorgeous-gorgeous-gorgeous!  I LOVE her!


Stephanie took this one, a first glimpse at Evangeline

So I didn’t post a song yesterday but it was mainly because I was in a room filled with longing and expectancy, a birthing room.  The room was filled with holy music the entire time and it was beautiful and all I could manage to do was Tweet about it.

tweet evangeline

After they told Tredessa, late morning,  she was dilated to 5 cm and she had been hoping to be so much further, I backed away as she and Ryan literally danced through contractions.  He’d reach out his hand to her like they were at any romantic event and she would lean into his chest and they’d sway softly, Tredessa breathing carefully while Ryan cheered her on and encouraged her.  Then as the contraction would subside, she’d sit down to rest for a minute or two and then he’d say, “Let’s have another contraction.  Are you ready?”  And he’d reach out his hand and lift her, as if he had just said, “May I have this dance?”  And they had a contraction every single time, on and on, for nearly an hour.  And I sat in front of my majestic snow-capped mountain backdrop on this perfect sunlit day praying for them, praying for my sweet daughter to have the strength she needed, and I wept.  They were working hard for their love, for this baby…

birthing day out the hospital window

This was part of what we saw through the window at the hospital

The birth of a granbebe shows me the Advent-Christmas connection in Technicolor You wait with longing for 9 months, you labor through dark hours hoping, concentrating, wondering if you can see this thing through…then in a moment of total surrender, when you believe you cannot go on – she arrives…LIFE!

birthing day dessa and eva

Welcome to the world, little Evangeline Lilly.  Your Nonna already loves you.

birthing day the family

And now to Ryan and Tredessa: Prepare the way for Baby Eva!  Eva!!!

Advent Song {Martin Smith}

Somehow, the observance, the careful thought of taking specific time daily (with a song) to look ahead with anticipation for all God has in store is making the season brighter, merrier, more joyous for me.  :)

“It is now, at Advent, that I am given the chance to suspend all expectation…and instead to revel in the mystery.” ~ Jerusalem Jackson Greer

I am re-using a song I used earlier this week because Tredessa was perplexed (she gasped that I didn’t use the Martin Smith-Kim Walker version) that I didn’t use this version.  And she was so right!

gemma at christmas

This song, Waiting Here for You, is so-so-so perfect as an Advent song.  Which I already went on about.  And I love this live, worship version with Jesus Culture’s Kim Walker and Martin Smith himself singing it (he co-wrote it with Chris Tomlin).  So if you are ready to get your worship on, turn it up and go!

If faith can the mountains, then let the mountains move

BUT ALSO – I just discovered the official video version from the God’s Great Dance Floor album.  I didn’t know I could like it better than the Jesus Culture version, but it turns out, I really do.  You still get the full-crowd, live-worship-like-you-are-there rendition, but you also get the cool, intimate, just-me-and-Jesus in His beautful creation version.  SO GOOD.

santa hunter

Either way, this song of Advent is meant to be voiced with strength and abandoned love and desire: Waiting Here for YOU!   Pick a version, any version…Merry Christmas!

Jesus Culture: Martin Smith and Kim Walker

LOVE this one!!!  Martin Smith www.martinsmith.tv {5*****stars!} Yes!

“The Kingdom of God is the already but not yet”. ~R. Alan Woods

Who IS the girl singing with him???

Another Song for Advent, A Peaceful Lullaby

Eight down, one to be born…

reindeer foot and handprints

The 8 grandbebes have had cold, wet paint squished through their fingers and toes for Nonna’s annual Christmas art exhibit.  And just in case she gets here on time (and oh, we hope she will since she is due to arrive in a mere 6 days, I have Evangeline’s “canvas” all ready to go.

I know Jesus wasn’t born on December 25.  But as we observe, we are marking the time as if He had been.  So Tredessa, my daughter, is in much the same place Mary would have been about now in her pregnancy.  The time is close and everthing about life begins to focus in on the coming glory.  So glad Tre will have a nice car for getting to the hospital instead of riding on a donkey for 4 days.  Although – that cannot hurt labor, can it?

And on that note, we have the iPhone docking station ready to go to the birthing room, where it will be playing the anointed, beautiful Hidden in My Heart Scripture Lullabies.  I cannot tell you how soothing and lovely this music is and how very peaceful the atmosphere becomes when it is playing.   The songs are beautifully arranged and while each stands alone, as an ongoing part of the whole: just so restful and faith-building!  Bonus: pure Word of God released into the air.  And His Word will accomplish everything it sets out to do.  Period.

So, this is perfect for now.  The week of desiring and longing and looking for the Peace only Jesus can give.  PLEASE take a few minutes and listen….

The Peace of God, Hidden in My Heart, Volume I

By the way, check out the Hidden in My Heart website and you can download a free song, or even send a free song.  I met the Stockers once (they are the writers/producers) and I gushed all over them because I love my 2 CDs so much.  They are a generous bunch, the people at Hidden in my Heart!  And Volume III was just released!  BUY!

The wreaths, the candles, the colors and other Advent mysteries

I told you the other day I looked up something about Advent from a Catholic site and they had used Wikipedia’s definition of it, which is…odd.  But anyway…I have not come to criticize, I have come to try to figure out the traditions of it because it is fun.  And I have started my own tradition this year – songs.  :)

amelie belle and santa

Amelie was glad to discover her old friend is back today

Anyway, in the 80s we lived in a small Nebraska city and there was a strong liturgical bent and I followed along, observing customs like the Advent wreath and lighting candles and basically just did whatever everyone else was doing.  But I’ve decided to try to understand the value of it in my old age, because I like things with meaning, and I find that rituals and patterns in our lives offer a rhythmic order that keeps our steps steady, day in and day out, season by season…

be merry

So, this morning I wondered, “Now what exactly are all those purple candles and the one pink one about???”  And found, after just clicking through a few sites on my Google-search: that explanation varies greatly!!!  Proof: {{click here}}. 

Pick a meaning, any meaning.  What?  Am I going to have to attend seminary to sort this thing out?  I don’t think so.  I am choosing for the week following the second Sunday of Advent to be about Peace (which is one of the options listed.  Last week, hope.  This week. peace.).  So let’s just agree that yesterday’s Advent candle (which I did not light) began a week looking forward to Peace.  Yes, Peace on earth, in the world, OK.  But Peace inside us, too, in our homes, where we go, as we drive (with all the maniacs on the road), in the decisions we make and the conversations we have: Peace.

And since for whatever reason, I seem to be on an 80s kick today (as evidenced by my Twitter posts), I shouldn’t have been surprised by this song coming to mind when I said, “God?  Give me a song for my Advent observation.  Something in the peace-genre,”  as if He is just spinning discs on request for me.  I waited for something spectacular to come to mind.  Then, just as evening fell, I heard Carman’s voice in my head.  From the mid-80s: Fear Not, My Child.  It isn’t actually a “peace” song, but it reminds me of Jesus’s words in John 14.27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I think if Jesus says He is giving us HIS peace, we can safely kiss fear good-bye.    It isn’t helping us at all, anyway.  So, it’s 6:40 pm and I am going to listen, in the light of the tree (yes-TV is off!)…join me…

Today’s Advent Song…Fear Not, My Child

He knows how to take care of what is causing us fear.

So 80s!  Love it!

Handel’s MESSIAH New and Old for Advent

Here we are on day 7 of Advent and I cannot help but think of high school choir.  Mrs. Weatherly stretched our 70s-pop-radio-station minds and voices when she pulled out the rugged old copies of Handel’s Messiah (1741) and taught us several numbers.  At first it seemed nearly like a foreign language, but over the course of rehearsals, we came to love it, our delivery getting better, more crisp and mature.  The thrill of it was getting to perform at midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the big Catholic church in town – way outside “my” church walls.

2011 averi amelie hunter

This was December 2011…how quickly they grow…

I’ve only attended a couple of full-fledged performances of traditional Messiah performances and have never managed to get to see Young Messiah (yes, they found a way to make it pop), but each time was a musical thrill and how happy I am when I can hear and quietly sing along on complicated parts (alto and second soprano) I can still remember from high school.

Comfort Ye

First the more traditional version with a full symphony if you’re up for a beautiful musical adventure.  If not, I have included a second version from the The New Young Messiah (what? “young” wasn’t good enough already?!), a more contemporary rendition.  It doesn’t matter how you listen, it IS the good news and a promise from God that our sins were being forgiven!  Oh, yes!

Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to

Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her

iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,

prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:1-3)


I love that the God of the universe, the just and True God, the God of Righteousness and holiness still looks at us in our mess of living and says these words which have marked this year for me,

Comfort, comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim to her

that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for,

that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins. Is 40.1-2 niv

The Advent Song Goes On

“Advent as a season is meant to make the journey toward Christmas full of meaning; it’s meant to put us touch with our deepest longings and greatest hopes; it’s meant to teach us to bring all our desires together on one object: Christ. While “Christmas” as a season (properly) begins on December 25 and goes twelve days (yes, there’s a song about that!) until January 6th, Advent is all about the build-up to it. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and takes us right up to the glorious celebration of the incarnation.” -Glenn Packiam

So, we just passed the first Sunday of Advent.  This first week traditionally, at least so I am reading, is all about the Patriarchs and Old Testament figures from God creating the heavens and the earth, the fall into sin with Adam and Eve, through the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the promised is being revealed and God’s great plan of salvation is put into motion.  So much happened to get a Savior to us, those whom God so loves, didn’t it?

So today, I chose a Phillips, Craig and Dean song (Dave loves them), Shine on Us.  It is prayerful, an invitation of all God is to come and just be welcomed in us, on us, around us.  Go sit in the light of your Christmas tree and listen for 4 minutes, and pray it.  Then receive it.

And I read a really wonderful blog by Glen Packiam about what Advent should be:

“Advent ought to be a gift of fresh Spirit-oxygen, not a busy, frenetic, string of shopping trips and meaningless parties.”

You can read the whole post HERE.  It isn’t long, but it does have some great insight into this Advent thing.


Song for a Sunday // In Expectancy and Preparation

We wait.

baby due 12 16 13

We wait with expectant joy.  A baby is coming.  Joy will be fulfilled and realized with the final Aaaaahhhh-she is here!  She has come!  We understand the anticipation and longing there was for the Messiah “for a people living in darkness…” this year with more vivid zeal and holy anxiousness than ever.  Like children who can barely get to sleep on Christmas Eve as they excitedly anticipate the gifts they’ll find from mommies and daddies who love to give them good things, we await Evangeline’s arrival, sometime before Christmas.

Just a year ago, we were hoping-waiting-cautiously-opening-our-hearts for Malakai.  He came early.  In January.  It was sweet and the consummation of so much prayer and eager yearning.  So sweet…

kai meeting the big santa dec 1 2013

Kai is here today, checking this Santa character out. He isn’t sure about him.  Malakai will be full-fledged walking and running by Christmas morning, I am sure of it.


And today, the first Sunday of Advent, we remember, with exceeding joy, that the long-awaited Savior of the world, once a mystery and a desiring, yet He already was waiting for us and we acknowledge the beauty of His coming and look for Him again.  He is the Promise.  The Hope and Perfection of all things!

I had an idea!

I didn’t grow up in high-church tradition, so we didn’t observe Advent and the traditional readings and candle-lightings and services that went with the four Sundays leading to Christmas, nor the daily devotionals.  But I discovered them when my children were small and have so so so always tried (or maybe more accurate: wanted to try) to implement the observation, the wreath, the candle-lightings.

Today, after all, the first Sunday of Advent is about HOPE.  It is about the story of the Old Testament Patriarchs, Jesus’s ancestors, looking, waiting, hoping, longing for His coming.  Hope is needed now more than ever…

So, as I was wondering, what song to do for Song for a Sunday, I realized how Advent could totally be a time of songs, too.  Which it probably already is, but I am going to set myself to selecting songs for this season, each one to sing and think about, each to represent our longing and worship as we enter this busy season.

I plan to set apart a few minutes each day, at least long enough for a song, to meditate on the Joy of my Desiring, a Savior!  I’ll share with you if you’d like.  I think this could help lots of busy families who want to observe and celebrate Advent, but can’t find the time.  A song!

Today,  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Francesca Battistelli

And my anticipation is doubled because soon, a new grandbebe. And this year, I will comprehend in deeper ways.  And look for Him in my day to day…And this is blessed.

And we watch.  And we wait.