The Sixth Day of Christmas (because I skipped the fifth)

The Sixth Day of Christmas (because I skipped the fifth)

So here’s the thing about endometriosis/PCOS/pelvic pain – at least the way it manifests in my life –  it totally derails your plans sometimes.

If I could have picked something to be an advocate for, I would have had one hell of a list to choose from. Black Lives Matter. Ending abortion. Adoption. Good theology. Good theology of sex among Christian women (especially single Christian women – purity culture has had its drawbacks). The sufficiency of Scripture. Discipling women. Mission work with Bedouins. Freeing people from slavery. Streetwalking with Jesus. Making dangerous streets safe again.

Instead, I get to talk about disorders and diseases of the female reproductive system.

Now, don’t get me wrong, those other things matter to me a great deal. Hopefully I will be able to help on some of these fronts at least. I can write about them a lot – and I’m sure I will. But with my illnesses, I feel that I bear responsibility for raising awareness and talking about what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I’m trying to figure out how to value Jesus in

This isn’t what expected 31 to look like for me. But here it is. And you know, it’s beautiful, even in its brokenness.

The Third Day of Christmas

The Third Day of Christmas

Today’s post is a PSA. Are you ready for this?

The “X” in Xmas is not an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. Well, perhaps some people use it with that in mind, but the joke’s on them, because X in this case is the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter in Christ and often was used on its own, or with the rho (which looks like a P in our alphabet, thus XP), to reference Christ. When I was a seminary student, I used X all the time in my notes.

So next time you see “Xmas,” spaz thou not.

The Second Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

This Christmas was a first for me on many levels – first Christmas with jurisdiction over a Christmas tree, first Christmas away from my parents, first Christmas celebrated with my in-laws, first Christmas in Houston, first Christmas in truly balmy weather. It’s weird, especially the weather part, but it has been a really really fun Christmas. Maybe my favorite ever. (It helps that my side of the family keeps sending pictures of all the cute little kid happenings going on with them.)

So for my first Kraig Family Christmas, we spent all day Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s house. We played games, ate, opened presents, talked, and laughed a lot. It was so much fun. My in laws are a blast.

Whenever we get together, we always eat really well. This could have something to do with the fact that all the adults in the family are good cooks – so good that, from time to time, we have intense cooking competitions and bring in outside judges. I am, on most fronts, massively outskilled when it comes to kitcheny things in this family.

But for Christmas Eve, I made these amazing mushrooms that Ree Drummond swears by.* They are a special-occasion dish – I make them maybe once or twice a year – and they are phenomenal. And the Kraigs rejoiced.

And oh, the leftovers. Y’all should seriously hop over to The Pioneer Woman and see how easy it is to make the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.

Just wait till I tell you about our Christmas Day adventures roasting duck!


*I have yet to find a Burgundy wine, so mine aren’t technicially “Burgundy Mushrooms.” But so far, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Petit Shirazes have yielded to-die-for results.

The First Day of Christmas

The First Day of Christmas

Boo, peeps! Bet you forgot this blog existed. I got busy (who didn’t right?), but I have good news for you (well, I guess it depends on whether you like reading this blog, but if you don’t, you should probably stop and ask yourself why you are doing that, right this very minute in fact…):

I am blogging the 12 days of Christmas. That means a blog post per day. For twelve days. In case you’re as bad at math as I am. (I had my husband the engineer check this paragraph for accuracy.)

As you know, there are partridges and pear trees and all sorts of nonsense allotted for this, the first day of Christmas. But since my pear ornament still hasn’t arrived from my Etsy dealer, instead today I am going to talk about my favorite Christmas hymn.

[Spoiler alert: “It’s Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”]

Now, I grew up (after 4th grade) in the PCA, and at a church where we were pretty obsessed with RUF. I had all the RUF CDs I could get my hands on pretty early in high school. My high school youth group sang way more stuff like “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” and “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” than that peskily romantic “In the Secret.” And, if you’re familiar with those hymns and you click those links and listen to the demos, you’ll notice that one of them is a folked-up version of the traditional tune and the other is to a completely new tune. That’s what RUF often does with rich, old hymn texts – set them to new tunes, especially if the old tune lack a certain accessibility to the modern ear.

So, thanks to youth group, I learned “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by heart to the RUF tune of this song (“O Day of Rest and Gladness”), although I’ve found no recording of this song to this tune. (I like the traditional tune as well, but I learned it later.) And when we sang it, we sang it with 4 verses. Unless you were at PCPC with me, I bet you’ve never sung – or heard – all four. I cannot find a single recording on iTunes of all four verses, and believe me, I have looked. The reason is probably that the two verses that are most often sung – below they are 1 and 4 – were written by Charles Wesley in 1744, while the other two were inserted by some fellow named Mark E. Hunt in 1978.

Despite their disparate origins, I think the song 1) flows better with all four verses in play – they’re woven together so nicely, and 2) really isn’t very long anyway, so there’s like zero excuse for the cut. Unless you’re a Wesley-purist or something. But maybe that’s just me.

So here they are: glorious lyrics about our glorious King.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art,
Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Joy to those who long to see Thee, Dayspring from on high, appear!
Come, Thou promised-Rod of Jesse – of Thy birth we long to hear. 

O’er the hills, the angels singing news, glad tidings of a birth:
“Go to Him, your praises bringing – Christ, the Lord has come to earth!”

Come to earth to taste our sadness, He, Whose glories knew no end; 
By His life He brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number, born within a cattle stall –
This the everlasting wonder: Christ was born the Lord of all. 

Born Thy people to deliver, born a Child a yet a King. 
Born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring. 
By Thine own eternal Spirit, rule in all our hearts alone; 
By Thine all-sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne. 

Come on now, isn’t that brilliant? And packed with riches – so many truths about Christ crammed into such little space. Here are some of my favorites:

  • This song is full of affection for Jesus. I love that, because stirring our hearts to love Him is something music really can helps us with. It’s not creepy, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend affection, but it recognizes Who He has revealed Himself to be and receives Him with faith and love. Look at some of the names used to describe Him: “Strength and Consolation;” “Dear Desire” (not just an important desire, but one dear to the singer); “Joy to those who long to see Thee;” the powerful string “our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.”
  • I love the constant juxtaposition of Jesus’ humanity and His deity, His greatness and His teeniness: the story of God-become-zygote; the ineffable becoming a Man with skin and bones; the Holy One bearing the weight of our sin and brokenness; the difference between the the gloriousness of heaven and the poverty and pain of the Son of Man*.
  • The Gospel is so clear: Christ came to deliver for Himself a people. He sets us free, releasing us from our fears and our sins. He does this by His “all-sufficient merit.” This is justification. He sends the Spirit to indwell us and conform us to Him, filling us with appropriate love and awe and gratitude and joy in and for God, as well as holiness (“by Thine own eternal Spirit, rule in all our hearts alone”). This is sanctification. “Raise us to Thy glorious throne” – bring us to Your Presence – this is glorification.
  • There are so many references to Old Testament prophecies! These words are laden with them.
  • The whole song is about anticipation – the anticipation of Christmas, of course, which makes it super-appropriate to Advent, but also the anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ. The hope of things being made right, of brokenness being healed, of joy that doesn’t end – those things we always anticipate. We are groaning right alongside creation for that day.


*The Son gave up this incredible glory to secure a greater glory – the glory of redeeming a people for Himself, of reconciling sinners to the Father, of being a God Who saves. Indeed, His right hand is strong to deliver.

Not the Same Kind of Nerd

Not the Same Kind of Nerd

My husband Stephen and I got married on Super-Pi Day (3.14.15) at a science museum because we are nerds and unashamed about it. There were dinosaurs on the pint glasses we gave away as favors. We even used the song from the final scene of Star Wars: A New Hope as our recessional. We are totally unashamed about geeking out about things.

But our individual geekiness-types are not thoroughly compatible. To borrow from the inimitable John Green, the Venn diagram of my geekiness and his geekiness is not a circle. For example, consider Exhibit A: I think John Green and Hank Green are flipping hilarious. He doesn’t. But that’s just the beginning.

  • I love suspense and crime-fighting and superheroes and mysteries. Stephen is very conditional about his feelings about these genres, and the very extraneous element that ramps up the excitement for me (BRITISHNESS) totally derails his interest most of the time.
  • Exhibit C: I spent the first few months of our marriage trying to win Stephen over to the Whovian fandom. We watched two straight seasons and then selections from the next season or two, and he’s completely nonplussed. (That sound you hear is me weeping over how Stephen will probably never get to appreciate Rory and how much alike I think they are.)
  • Exhibit D: I am an English major through and through. (Obviously; I just used the word “nonplussed.”)  I am not so hot with numbers that aren’t dates or page numbers. Technical skills aren’t exactly my forte (although it turns out I’m pretty good at building PC boards and soldering). Stephen, on the other hand, is an electrical engineer who thinks calculus is really fun, reads books about how exactly to brew various kinds of beer, builds guitar amplifiers from the ground up and thoroughly enjoys it, still has all his old engineering and math homework, etc. from college, brought three hardback books to bed the other night because he had bits of each he wanted to reread before embarking on a new project.
  • Exhibit E: I’m a theology nerd. Stephen thinks it’s fun to talk about those things from time to time, and that it’s certainly useful to an extent, but he does not geek out about theology. Like ever.

Thanks to the Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and plot-driven shows like Quantico and Narcos, we have had a lot to watch together. And I’ve been learning to appreciate the humor and perceptiveness of South Park and Bob’s Burgers (in which, by the way, I am like Linda – except I more often quote Jane Austen or the Westminster Standards than sing showtunes – and Stephen is totally like Bob), both of which Stephen thinks are brilliantly hilarious. But if you guys have suggestions, well, we’re pretty open to those…

Obviously, there are a lot of perks to marrying someone with interests, skills, and knowledge you don’t have. But I think it’s fascinating that, for all our nerdiness, we each have so much nerdiness that’s not in common with the other. That is the weirdest sentence I’ve written in a long time.

When we were church hunting during the first few months of marriage, we quickly figured out that I naturally (and not surprisingly AT ALL) home in on the theology being taught and applied – not just what is being said from the pulpit, but the lyrics of the songs sung, the elements of the service that are included, that sort of thing; Stephen, on the other hand, is hyper-aware of a church’s vibe – how folks are interacting, the tone of the pastor, the extent of apparent hierarchy in the church culture, the approachability of the people. So while I’m over here analyzing (sometimes to death) a weird thing that the pastor said in the sermon, Stephen is thinking, “I really like how obvious they make it that kids are welcome in the service with us.” This made our church hunt REALLY fascinating, but also was a quick demonstration of how well we are suited to each other. People who think like me are how Calvinists get labeled “the frozen chosen” – I need the invigorating, red-blooded thinking Stephen brings to the table. In this area, I am passionately heady, but his thinking puts flesh and blood relationships in an important position. I’m inclined to bust out a magnifying glass and examine orthodoxy – which literally means “right teaching” – while he’s sitting back quietly looking for orthopraxy – “right practice.” We both think both are very important, but put us together and we can actually consider both much better in real life.

I am a firm believer in the idea that no one can be queued up and tuned in to all the important, meaningful things – that’s one of the reasons we need community. Because I may care a whole lot about the Black Lives Matter movement, but I need people in my life to tell me about important issues that matter to them – addiction and eating disorders and Syrian refugees and preserving endangered species and life-giving approaches to fighting poverty. There are so many important things to care about, and the world needs people on mission for each one.

*It took me a lot of tries to title this post. It started off as “This Post Is Literally about Nerdiness and Church Hunting,” but that stopped fitting toward the end of the writing process. Most recently it was “I Didn’t Marry a Dude-Version of Me.” So maybe I will write posts on Fridays with weird titles. Cause this one is weird too.