How to Beat the Post-Christmas Blues

From the pages of my journal on Christmas Day…

Dearest Lord, with your take-on-flesh love for me…

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For this advent, for this perfect Christmas Day.

Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, for your coming, for your story, your love story for me since the dawn of time.

Christmas, it comes with such longing, and I do long, I long for Christmas to go on and on.

This Christmas, for me, has been fought for, hoped for, prayed for. I’ve sought you, struggled, despaired, and, in the end, rested, and watched, and opened for you and your coming, defying anything, anyone, to steal my joy, to steal my peace this day.

And now the clock strikes midnight. The lights go out. And it’s over.

And here you go bringing one more gift…the gift…of hope, and truth, and freshest grace.

Because the Christ of Christmas is never over. You are never over. Your coming never stops!

This season of Advent it could carry over. Carry over into all my tomorrows.

This waiting on you…

This waiting for you…

This struggle, this fight, to let go of all that clings, that burdens…

This being done with everything but you…

This defiance against the thief of peace, of joy…

It could spill over. It could go on and on.

Oh, how I want to stay, here, in the bosom, in the splendor, in the wonder of Christmas.

I can’t stay.

But you, the greatest gift, I get to take you with me. And as Ann writes, I get to have as much of you, as much of the greatest gift as I could ever want.

Tomorrow, it can be another celebration.

A celebration of you, of life, of love…

A celebration of God with us. God still with us…

A celebration of advent and a Savior whose love knows no end…

Tomorrow and every day after.

Happily, ever after.

I don’t know about you but I always feel blue in the days that follow Christmas.

Christmas with all its joy and anticipation comes and goes so quickly. For one day, the world stops, holds its ragged breath, and everything is wonder-full.

And then it’s over.

This morning, as I went about my regular routine of getting showered and dressed I picked up my phone, scanned my playlists, and considered the choice before me. I wanted to listen to the music of Christmas. I wanted to savor the strums that make my heart merry, but I didn’t want to feel the longing I knew these songs would bring.

And that’s when I remembered, these pages, these writings from my journal, written just days ago at the midnight turn of Christmas Day.

I tapped “play,” and allowed Michael W. Smith to sing to me, “Christmastime,” once more. And my heart, I let it linger, I let it long for all I’ve really wanted this Christmas season, for all I really want at the start of this New Year…more of him.

Sweet friends, in these days that follow Christmas, these days that begin the New Year, we need not be blue, or down, or depressed. We need only to carry the Christ of Christmas with us. We need only to keep unwrapping, again and again, the gift.

Again and again, the gift of him.

Every Gift

My family's beautiful Christmas tree.

My family’s beautiful Christmas tree.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

I’ve always loved this verse and during the holidays it seems to be everywhere.

Yet somehow I’m always a bit puzzled by the ending. “…coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows?” I’ve often found myself wondering what this means, and how does it relate to God and his good and perfect gifts. I feel like I’ve never quite understood how the two parts of this verse go together.

What I do know is that the beginning of my New Year is sure to be marked with changes.

For five years my husband, girls, and I have shared a roof with my mom and dad. While this sort of arrangement may spell out disaster for some families it has always and only spelled out blessing for me and mine.

And starting this January, our time together is coming to an end, at least for the time being. My dad has accepted a job that is relocating both he and my mom to North Carolina. It’s a position that will last for at least six months with the possibility of a more permanent position to follow.

To say the least our future as a household is a bit uncertain.

When I look back at the years we’ve spent together, and the moments that have transpired within the walls of this house, all I can see are gifts:

Bringing both my babies home from the hospital…

Mom’s holiday (or weeknight) dinners around the table…

Dad’s tea parties with my girls…

Birthday parties…

Barbecues on our back porch…

Mom’s special talent for rocking my girls to sleep…

Walks around the block on mild summer evenings…

Movies, football, and basketball games on cold winter nights…

Goodnight kisses, “Welcome Home,” hugs, laughter, tears, and, sweet, sweet memories…

My dad's beautiful for gift for wrapping presents.

My dad’s beautiful for gift for wrapping presents.

Gifts that I’m learning to hold in an open hand, freely given, freely accepted, freely given away.

Gifts that were given for a time and purpose.

Gifts that were never meant to last forever.

And that verse in James, it hits me full to the brim with truth and meaning. In a life full of good and perfect gifts, the only unchanging gift I have is Christ.

There is an Alison Krauss song that I love with lines that speak to the tendency I have to hold onto the changing things of this world instead of God’s perfect love for me:

“Hurting brings my heart to you, my fortress in the storm,

When what I’ve wrapped my heart around is gone.

I give my heart so easily to the ruler of this world,

When the One who loves me most will give me all.” (From “There is a Reason for It All”)

This Christmas, this year, instead of wrapping gifts for each other, what if we wrapped our hearts around Jesus? What if we looked at our lives and found that every good and perfect gift is from above but that God is the only gift unchanging?

James, he must have known how our human hearts get twisted, get wrapped around other things. And that’s why he reminds us, here, in this verse about gifts, in this verse about a world full of shifting shadows that God doesn’t change.

The giver of gifts, the Father of stars doesn’t change. Our souls can rest in him. Your soul can rest in him. In a season of gifts, and change, and blessings that come to an end, my soul can rest in him.

This Christmas, this year, in the gifts that are given, in the changes that come, in the blessings and shadows that shift and fade, may Christ be your good, your perfect, your unchanging gift.

Why Christmas Can’t Be Ruined

By Friday I reached my breaking point.

For a couple of weeks I’ve been writing about my perfect-imperfect Christmas and the renovations that are taking place inside my household just days before Christmas.

I’ve written about how I’ve made the choice to embrace the mess, the clutter. How I’ve chosen not to let the fact that my sister and her family aren’t coming home for Christmas or the fact that my mom and dad are about to move south shortly after the Holidays, steal my joy.

And for the most part I’ve followed through with each of these choices, but on Friday? On Friday I hit a wall.  On Friday I realized that in the midst of all I’ve done to set my gaze on a Christmas that is all about Jesus and his take-on-flesh love for me, I still have this drive, this deep-seeded desire for a perfect Christmas.

When push comes to shove and I’m pressed and pulled this is what I want.

“Urghhhhhhhh.” I wrote in a text message to my friend, Amanda, who has been my tether to God in the midst of this storm.

“I don’t like that kind of text!” She wrote back. “Look at the snow. Breathe!!”

Thank goodness for a friend who knows my heart, that can steer me in the right direction. Amanda knows how much I love the snow. Her wise advice reminded me to calm down and focus on the blessings around me.

Taking her advice, I peered out my window at the cotton ball flakes floating down. And as I stood and watched in the still, in the quiet, I heard him whisper, “Take heart, dearest, your Christmas can’t be ruined.”

Your Christmas can’t be ruined.

This is truth, sweet friends. Gospel truth, in fact.

Your Christmas can’t be ruined.

I adore these lines from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,

…’They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

‘They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!

‘Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

‘Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!

‘That’s a noise,’ grinned the Grinch,

‘That I simply MUST hear!’

So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low. Then it started to grow…

But the sound wasn’t sad!

Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so!

But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!

The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook!

What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!


Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

‘It came without ribbons! It came without tags!’

‘It came without packages, boxes or bags!’

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

‘Maybe Christmas, he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’” (From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

Isn’t this the very truth of Christmas that it always comes, that Christmas is always perfect, because Christmas celebrates a Savior who has been coming for us since the very first breath of time?

In the garden…

In the manger…

On the cross…

The Savior comes to ransom his beloved.

To ransom me.

To ransom you.

This is why Christmas can’t be ruined.

No matter what is happening in your life today, or in the midst of your Holiday season…

No matter what threatens to ruin, or fail, or steal your peace, your joy, your Christmas…

No matter the family missing from around the tree…

No matter the gifts unsought, unwrapped…

The cookies unbaked…

The lights unstrung…

No matter the bills unpaid…

The wounds unhealed…

The relationships still broken…

Our Savior comes and because he comes our Christmas can’t be ruined.

He came as a baby to the manger.

He came as a Savior to the cross.

He’s coming, still, like a lover for his bride.

And he’s coming this Christmas to fill your home, to fill your life, to fill your heart with his manger-to-cross-to wedding feast love.

Christmas comes and will not delay. What could possibly be more perfect?

So look at the snow.

Look at the manger.

Look at the love of our Savior cast all around…

In childhood laughter…

In Christmas lights…

In the sound of bells ringing out true love…

And breathe.

O Holy Night (A Message From Cara)

Suti SanaA few days ago I received an email from my dear friend, Cara. Cara and her husband Mache live and work in Bolivia as missionaries with Word Made Flesh. Cara, in particular, works with a ministry called Suti Sana. Through this incredible ministry, Cara works to build relationships with women who are seeking to escape a life of prostitution. The Suti Sana ministry provides housing and resources to rehabilitate these women, give them hope, and show them the goodness, grace, and power of God’s love in their lives.

All of Cara’s letters are beautiful and ring with truth and love. When I read the story of how Cara and her community take Christmas to the brothels of their city, I knew this letter must be shared. I asked Cara for permission and graciously she agreed. If you would like more information on Cara or the ministry of Suti Sana please visit

O Holy Night

One by one, staff and volunteers arrive at the Casa de Esperanza bundled in scarves and puffy jackets and are herded into the living room to practice some shaky Christmas carols.  Some first-timers look nervous, but most of us are excited to see our friends.  Laughing, we don Santa hats and sling 300 fruitcakes in sacks onto our backs to deliver along the Red Light District.  It’s the event of the year: Christmas Caroling in the Brothels!

Caroling in the brothels is nerve-wracking.  It’s never easy ducking through the doors into the low lights and the grimy cement rooms under the curious, hopeful gaze of the girls, or the suspicious, hostile gaze of the clients.  But it’s harder still when you’re wearing a Santa hat and asking the bartender to turn down the dance music so you can burst into song.

Yet, caroling in the brothels is prophetic.  It shines the brightest light the world has ever known, the most intense hope that has ever broken into the world, into the darkest, most hopeless places man has created.  It can leave the girls weeping for the hope they forgot existed.

Caroling is never boring.  We may be a group of 15 singing to one lonely girl on a corner, or the women in a brothel may come out of their rooms and join us in song.  A friend I hadn’t seen for months clung to me and made me promise to pray for her.

Caroling is, for me, the most holy night of the year.  I’m always overwhelmed that God has entrusted us, a ragtag band of motley singers, with this matchless mission.  I’ve never met a Christmas pageant, a candle-light service, or a Christmas Eve sermon that pierces my soul the way this joyful proclamation of hope in the Red Light District does.

“Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices.
O night divine
O night when Christ was born.”
May the same unquenchable hope break into your life this Christmas!

What I’ll Miss Most

Tree 2A few nights ago my husband, daughters and I came home after an evening of running errands. As we walked in the door my dad smiled big at my daughter, Aletheia, and told her a surprise was waiting for her in her room.

Excited, we all went upstairs to find a small but beautiful Christmas tree had been placed in each of my daughters’ rooms.

As soon as I saw the trees I knew who was behind this Christmas joy…(Today I’m blessed with the honor of guest posting for my friend Jessie Heninger and her blog Confessions of a Housewife. To read more hop on over to Jessie’s site by following this link…