Redeeming December

judah

Three years ago in December, I went to my OB for a normal check up.  I was just about 14 weeks pregnant with our third baby, and excited to hear that sweet little heartbeat once again.  Out came the doppler to verify all was well with the little one.  After several minutes of silence, the nurse reassured me everything was probably fine, and quickly left to get the doctor.  They wheeled in the ultrasound machine and a few moments later I was told my baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Those words repeated in my mind a thousand times over the next few days and weeks. And then, I began to experience grief in a way that was new and very foreign to me.

Then fast forward two years later to last December.  After trying for another baby for some time, we were expecting again.  It felt like an answer to prayer.  December came, another doctor appointment arrives, and once again: no heartbeat.  We were 10 weeks along, and I was heartbroken.

Last year, only a couple of weeks later, I remember attending a Christmas Eve service and weeping through the entire thing.  I was in the throws of grief, but I also had a whole new perspective on Christmas.  It was not just about Jesus’ birth, but also, his death.  God sent His Son here with the sole purpose of him dying – something I could not comprehend after losing two of my own. Christmas is a story of love and sacrifice woven perfectly together with grace. That night, I gained a greater understanding of what God had done for me; and in all my pain, I was grateful.

During those experiences, God sent people into our lives to love us and pray for us.  He used my pain and grief to open my eyes and break down my walls.  I’m so grateful for how God takes ugly things and makes them beautiful.  I would never volunteer to go through that again, but in God’s goodness He allowed it, and I’m thankful for how He used it.

This year, on December 2nd, God gave us a very special gift: a baby boy.  At first, I was hoping to deliver around Thanksgiving, but I think God’s timing for his birth was profoundly perfect.  God has redeemed our December.

I don’t always understand the pain that we experience. There were many times when I felt confusion and anger during those dark months.  What I do know is that I’m different because of it.

Even if God never blessed us with another child, He still would have been good.  But, today I am praising him for this sweet baby boy, and for giving me His Son Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

Steph

Psalm 30:11-12

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

Decorating with String Lights

I love the glow our Christmas tree gives to our living room.  Even during the daytime, it adds such a cheery touch of ambiance that I’m so sad to see go come January.  That’s why I am a big fan of decorating with string lights year round. So while you have your christmas lights out and untangled, why not put some in places that could hang around a little longer after the Christmas season has come and gone.

Here are some ways I like to use them around the house year round:

patio string lights

 

kitchen lights

These decorative patio string lights add a ton of charm.  I have these hanging above our dining table.  Every night when the table is set for dinner, all other lights are turned off, and these babies are turned on.  We are transported to a lovely cafe in the south of France.

Some quick tips for hanging these:

1.  Remove the bulbs while you are hanging…they are very delicate.

2.  I used curtain rod brackets to attach them to the wall:  nail the brackets into a stud and then grab some floral wire to attach the string to the brackets.  I’ll be honest, it’s not a science, just get it to stay put.  Once they are up there they won’t be touched.

picture lights

This is a really fast and easy way to add some glow to your room and to highlight a piece of art that you love.  This burlap art is made with canvas, so I used thumb tacs between the cords on the light strand to hold them in place.  Just be careful not to puncture the actual cord.

jar lights

 

wood lights 2

wood lights 1

I love putting string lights into unexpected things.  Mason jars, lanterns, flower vases, baskets and old bird cages are all great options for this.  Use what you already have, or go check out your local Goodwill for inspiration.

There are a ton of other ways you can add this glowy charm to your abode.  Just start experimenting and figure out what works of you.  Try draping a strand along your mantel or across the top of an upright piano.  Have fun with it!  This is the time of year you can pretty much get away with anything, and who knows, you might find something that works year round!