A Thrill of Hope for a Weary World {My Plan for Advent}

burning-thru-the-fog-M

Friends, these Christmas hymns embed themselves deep within me every time I sing them. And I’m being ripped apart this year, shedding raw truth in verses penned long ago.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to share my thoughts with you. They seem all over the place as only phrases are clinging to my soul…one stanza at a time from a variety of hymns.

I can’t make sense of it, but that’s okay. For now. Maybe all He wants me to do is keep trusting it will work itself out.

So that’s what I intend to do this Advent Season.

Instead of sharing my thoughts on the passages I’m reading for Advent, or what I’m gleaming from the services at church,
I’ll shed the burning in my heart.
One hymn’s stanza at a time.
Starting today.

It’s this line from “O Holy Night” that will not leave me:

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices…”

And my raw thoughts:

If I were a pessimist, I’d laugh at the thought of simply a thrill of hope reviving praise. For a ‘thrill’ isn’t necessarily proof.

But it was more than they’d ever been given.

And you and I have no idea what that feels like.

{Which should cause us to rejoice even more.}

We’ve been tired, yes. Some of us have even toyed with true weariness. But living without the promise of hope not yet fulfilled? We have no clue.

From the time it was uttered (in Isaiah and in Jeremiah), it took over 600 years for God’s promise of a Messiah to come true, if I remember my theology correctly.

I’d like to think my heart would have fluttered if I had heard it was now a reality. But I’m not so sure…

Would I have accused another of crying wolf? If the angel didn’t appear directly to me, would I have believed the one who told me?

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why the angel selected shepherds. They would have had nothing to gain by telling a lie and I can’t see them crying wolf. I like to think I would have believed them.

I wonder if the key here is that they rejoiced at the very mention of a Messiah instead of cowering in fear over the rhelm of glory they were witnessing…

I’ve been pondering this and yet it’s a moot point.
Because I don’t have to wait for salvation.
Hope was given to me before my conception.

The thrill is offered to me each new morn. Yet I wonder…

Do I rejoice even when weary?

Do I run to be with Him? Just for a glimpse of His face…

Do I live out the hope I’ve been given?

I wonder…

And there’s no time like this Advent Season to make sure I can say ‘yes’!

Friends, today…I’m going to live in the hope gifted to me that O Holy Night. Will you join me?

How about you, friend? Do you feel the thrill of hope? How do you rejoice? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

It’s All in His Presentation {Winter Snow}

He could have come with a full entourage. Proclaiming His power to the world. Demanding we submit to His mighty hand.

But no.

Poor lighting. No midwife.
Unsterilized.
Dirt floors with an aroma of animal excrement.

That’s how my Savior presented Himself.

He didn’t deserve it.
I do, but He didn’t.

If that doesn’t show how selfless His love is. If that doesn’t reveal the lengths He’d go to ensure not one soul’s left behind, I don’t know what would.

Jesus bent lower than God has asked of any of us.

No one has a worse birth story. And no one exemplifies the beauty of life greater than He and His inexperienced mother.

We look at that stable today and see beauty. Pure redemption.

We look at Jesus’ birth and receive
a glimpse of how God sees us all.

Oh how He loves us.

He doesn’t see our mess, our unsterilized hearts. He sees hope.

God sees a life worth saving.

With the power of a lion, He came in like a lamb. Desperate for a mother’s breast.

Just like any of us.

If that doesn’t explain how willing He is to walk in our shoes. See the world how we see it. Feel the pain we experience. Taste temptation we’re presented with every day, I don’t know what will.

I look at the wrapped baby in a feeding trough
and my heart implodes with love.
For life so small and yet so great.
For an unobtrusive King willing to take my place.

And I can’t help but say ‘yes’ to His open hand extending an invitation to give me what this world can’t offer.

Friends, I pray you take time this Christmas season to get to know that babe in a manger more. Look at Him. Discover His mannerisms. Recognize His capabilities. Realize the depths He’d go to redeem you.

He could have come with a full entourage. But He didn’t have to.

He’s more than enough.

If He didn’t prove how much He could handle. If Him becoming vulnerable, reliant, helpless doesn’t show you how powerful He truly is, I don’t know what will…

(Subscribers, click here to listen in on one of my favorite Christmas songs pictured below)

Winter Snow

Featuring Audrey Assad and Chris Tomlin

How about you, friend? What do you see when you contemplate our Savior’s birth? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: I shared some thoughts on this song last year as well. You may see that post HERE.

Prepare Him Room

 ♪♫ Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing… ♪♫

The lyrics flow so freely off my lips I almost miss it.

I haven’t needed words displayed to sing this song for 15 years or more, but they were in front of me this day. And I glanced down at them just in time.

My eyes focus intently on the portion I need to linger on:

Let every heart prepare Him room.

And I feel my heart saying:

Make room for the Lord. No, more than that.
Prepare a place for Him. His very own room.

Heaven will sing. Nature will rejoice. There will be joy.

Now, Jesus has taken residence in my heart longer than I’ve had this song memorized. But has He had His very own room prepared? One that remains His? A permanent place?

I must confess, I’ve shuffled Him around from time to time. At the mere excuse of fleeting convenience.

But I’m striving to change that.
I want Him to be my guest of honor.
Every day.
He deserves to have His own room prepared.

He’s doing as much for me.

John 14:2-3

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

He’s preparing a place. Just for me. Just for you.
No excuses. Nothing else taking precedence. But us.

I’m so blessed. For I am incredibly loved and pampered over.

I sure can learn a lot by His example.

My eyes glance back down to the lyrics of a song I’ve heard with my ears so many times, but have never heard in my heart until now. And I see it. Right there in black and white.

Joy

The words jump from the page:

Joy! The Lord has come! The Savior reigns!
His blessings flow. Sin and sorrow grow no more.
Fields, floods, rocks, hills, plains…resound joy.
His Truth. Grace.
Glorious righteousness.
His wondrous love.
Repeat the joy. Repeat the sounding joy.

Yes, He deserves a room prepared in the depths of my soul. One that takes precedence. No more excuses.

Lord, please, come in. I have Your room prepared.
This life that I have made? The one I prepare for each day?
It’s Yours. All of it. For keeps…

How about you? How do you prepare Him room? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with  me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this post up with:

The Grace Cafe

Word Filled Wednesdays

He Came Quietly. Like snow. ~ Music Mondays

This was going to be my last Christmas edition of Music Mondays. I’m having such a hard time with that because I still have so much music to share! I might have to extend it to the day after Christmas. Or I might just throw in some mid-week posts that include music. We’ll see. . .

I shared my heart last week about striving to truly worship this Christmas.

And I meant what I said about the Chris Tomlin Christmas album. It’s worth gifting yourself with. I cannot get it out of my head. The songs put me right into the heart of worship even while doing dishes.

And this song…this song…

I cannot wait to share this with you.

But first, just think of all the ways God could have come to save the world. He could have come in a powerful hurricane-like storm, a magnanimous earthquake, an effectively loud booming voice…

He can control the tide. And He could have changed just that.

But no.
That wouldn’t have shown the love my Abba Father exemplifies.
Oh how He loves us.

And what greater way to exhibit the love of a parent than to extend the miracle of birth. With the world. For the world.

Quietly.

He could have come as a Lion. Instead He chose a lamb.

He could have put on an extraordinary show in the night sky. Instead He provided an extraordinary miracle in the night. A birth only a handful of people knew about. At first.

Quietly.
Like a whisper.
That’s my Redeemer.

And this song… this song…

Please, join me in worship as Audrey Assad alongside Chris Tomlin sing “Winter Snow” (found on the album pictured above).

(NOTE: If you’re reading this in a reader/email format, please click HERE to listen in)
UPDATE: For my email readers, I’m so sorry for the link error! Thank you for doing the extra click here to listen in.

How does this song speak to you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking up to:

Christmas Worship ~ Music Mondays

We refer to most Christmas hymns as ‘carols’. By definition they are. They’re religious folk songs, popular hymns associated with Christmas.

But over time, the term carol has lost meaning. Impact. And I wish I could write an apology letter to the authors of those masterpieces.

For they wrote those songs with the sole purpose of worship in mind. They composed those carols to bring glory to the Highest. To the King of all Kings. To the Savior, Christ our Lord.

Now, caroling is a grand idea (thought up by the Romans if you were curious). Bringing contagious joy to your neighbors in harmonies. Sharing the glory of the season in melodious splendor. Yes, a fine idea indeed. The tradition of caroling hasn’t changed much. It’s still the same. On the outside. How it is on the inside is up to us.

If only we could bring back the original purpose of those carols we sing in our churches, malls and nursing homes. If only we could prepare our hearts for what they were intended for: To God be all Glory and on earth, peace…good will.

Yes, that’s something worth striving for. This Christmas, I will strive to focus on the meaning of these carols I sing. With the intent of glorifying the Savior. And in that act of worship, I will behold Him.

Last week, I shared with you 10 of my favorite Christmas songs. They all focused more on the story of Christmas. The history behind Christ’s birth date. This week, I’d love to focus on the worship this event should bring forth. Back to the basics of what Christmas songs were written for.

And no one does that better than Chris Tomlin. His Christmas album is saturated with worship. Have you heard it? Any of it? It’s worth gifting yourself with.

Please, will you worship with me? Let’s behold Him.

Here’s the title song for Chris Tomlin’s Christmas Album: Glory in the Highest.

I implore you to stick around for the end of this song. I always have to stop what I’m doing around the 3:20 mark.

NOTE: If you’re reading this in email/reader format, please click HERE to listen in.

I pray you prepare your hearts for worship this Christmas season. May we bring

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

How about you? What Christmas song puts you in the heart of worship? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this up with:

My Christmas Playlist

Welcome to Music Mondays!

I love Christmas music. I don’t love when stores start playing it before Thanksgiving, but I have nothing against you playing it at home all year round!

And because it’s the first Music Monday of December, I thought I’d share some songs on my Christmas Playlist.

(NOTE: If you’re reading this in an email/reader format, PLEASE CLICK HERE to listen in and to see my new header!)

Here are 10 of my favorite Christmas songs in no particular order:

1. “You’re Here” ~ Francesca Battistelli

2. “Christmas Offering” ~ Casting Crowns

If you are not singing this song in church, I suggest you send your worship leader an email With THIS LINK (click to listen).

3. “Carol of the Bells” ~ BarlowGirl

This is one of my favorite songs. Normally, I prefer instrumental renditions, but I have to admit, Barlow Girl gets it. The timing, the crescendos, the articulations, the harmonies, the modulations, they’re all right on. Makes my heart flutter when I hear it.

4.”O Holy Night” ~ David Phelps

Let’s be honest. This song is HARD to sing. But oh, I love it so. And friends, David Phelps can sing, but it’s his passion that gets me every time and has made it my favorite version of this song. THIS LINK HERE shows him singing it live on the Gaither Vocal Band stage. Gives me goosebumps every time I watch it! (This is the best clip I could find. NOTE: The song begins around the 1:25 mark, but the testimonial is great before!)

5. “How Many Kings” ~ Downhere

This is a beautiful song for reflection. You can listen and read the lyrics by CLICKING HERE.
♪♫ How many greats have become the least for me?
♪♫ How many fathers have gave up their sons for me? Only one has done that for me. All for you. All for me.  ♪♫

6. “Mary and Joseph” ~ Dave Barnes

I’ve recently discovered Dave Barnes and really enjoy this entire Christmas album — especially this song:

7. “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)” ~ Barlowgirl

I really enjoy this entire album (Barlowgirl Home For Christmas). CLICK HERE to watch the official video of this great song.

8. “Be Born in Me (Mary’s Song)” ~ Francesca Battistelli from Music Inspired by “The Story”

Love. This. Song. (love the variety of this album, too)
Here is a sampling of the lyrics. Click on any of them to listen and see all the words to this beautiful song.

 ♪♫ I’ll hold you in the beginning
You’ll hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle
make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me
I am not brave I’ll never be
the only thing my heart can offer is vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
but I am willing
I am yours
Be born in me
 ♪♫

9. “Breath of Heaven” ~ Amy Grant

Yet another Mary’s Song I love. And let’s face it, no one sings it better than Amy Grant. CLICK HERE to refresh your memory.

10. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” ~ Casting Crowns

This is one of my favorite Christmas Hymns. I was so excited to see it on Casting Crowns’ fabulous Christmas album and was completely shocked to discover it was a fabulous instrumental interpretation. Still love it.

That’s a beautiful note to end on this week!

How about you? What are your favorite Christmas Songs? I’d love to hear as we’ll continue talking about them on Mondays for a few more weeks!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking this up to: