The Eighth Day of Christmas

The Eighth Day of Christmas

I hope you all had at least as much fun ringing in the New Year as we did last night when we completely forgot to pay attention to the time because we were so caught up in our current favorite board game, Pandemic. I’d never played a collaborative game before we got this (twas on sale at Target), and WE LOVE IT.

We didn’t register for Pandemic, but we did register for Carcassonne, and we’re so glad we did. We thought it would be nice to have a game that’s easy to play with just two, and based on reviews, we thought Carcassonne was a good bet, given how much we both like Settlers of Catan. (Playing Settlers with two requires all this extra work and it’s, for all you Scott Westerfield/Uglies fans, “crazy-making.”) Carcassonne has about 40 bajillion expansions, and it wasn’t long before we dropped cash on this beauty because we were so enamored. Date nights at home sometimes look like dinner and strategy games, I’m not gonna lie. The married life is pretty glamorous, y’all.

 

One thing I want to do on this blog is honest reviews of wedding registry items – what we use, how we’re learning to use it, etc. So consider this the first installment. Two-player board games are totally worthy of the registry. 

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.