* Special "Advent" Giveaway * I'm giving away (3) copies of my favorite Christmas devotional Today In A Manger -- signed by author Ian Strachman! Enter the giveaway at the end of today's post!
Psst. It’s a week before Christmas.
The Christmas cards are trickling in. Presents might be showing up on your doorstep. The spam from stores sounding the countdown to shipping rates and shipping dates — for sure — are attacking you from your inbox.
Don’t be alarmed.
I have some good news for us.
It’s not too late.
We’re not prisoners strapped on a runaway Christmas train.
We can still do it.
We. can. slow. down.
What He Really Wants
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve still got some things to do between now and then.
But, I’m not talking about what’s happening on the outside.
I’m talking about what’s happening on the inside.
I’m talking about the voices of expectations — from Christmas past, Christmas present and maybe for some, even from Christmas future and how you want it to be next year.
I’m talking about what Jesus said about Mary — when Martha was feeling the pressure to have everything turn out well.
Jesus smiles His words to me, as He did to Martha long ago —
You can let go.
What I really want is you.
It’s not too late.
Even if the holiday inertia builds around me, I’m undeterred.
I know what I want.
Myself in His Story.
There’s always a changing set of expectations every Christmas season. Life continually offers up different dynamics, so how I slow down varies. One thing is certain, no matter how many highs or how deep the lows, I want to dial down whatever it takes to make room for the story of Jesus’ birth.
Every year, my hope for Christmas is pretty simple.
I want to find myself in the Christmas story. Today.
One journey I take every December since my mid-twenties is this: I hope to find a character in the story that God can step me into. I wonder whose robes God will have me don this year. It won’t be for a church or school play.
I meditate on His story, reading it through the different Gospels, switching shoes on different characters — to feel, see, touch, hear, and smell what they do. For a day or two.
This year is no different.
I’m asking God to bring me to a place where I can experience Him simply and get ready for a new year.
So much has changed this year for me. I dared to jump in on dream deferred and I said yes to God.
Whenever we step out in faith, our world shifts. We look in the mirror and we don’t quite recognize everything we see — in the world and ourselves. Ways we used to live by don’t fit us any more, while what’s up ahead is still unknown, as we’re still growing into it.
It’s the in-between time. It’s exciting to know things are changing, but it’s more exciting to know that God doesn’t change.
I don’t know what awaits me next year, but I need to make that journey to Bethlehem and return with something new.
I need the ripples to lead me back to where the story of Jesus first began.
I’m not going to try to pretend or make Christmas happen.
I will unwrap each new day in faith that His story will hit me where I live today.
We can find Jesus in our everyday realities. He will show us the way.
They will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).
How are you a week before Christmas?
What can you dial down – or possibly skip – to enjoy Jesus in this season?
Pull up a chair. You know I love to swap stories. Click to share a comment
[ Psst. Next week 12/22: Wanna share which character in the Christmas story is speaking to you? That would be a treat!
If you blog, share a post on your “character”. If not, just simply comment.) ]
A Special Advent Giveaway
You may think Christmas is around the corner, but it’s never too late to take in the Christmas Story.
It’s never too late for Advent — for “coming”.
I’ve been meditating and tremendously enjoying: Today In A Manger: Revisiting HIS Story. It’s been a simple yet profound walk through the Christmas story in the four Gospels. This mini book holds powerful punch, people.
Author Ian Strachan has graciously offered to give away signed copies of Today In A Manger to three (3) Faith Barista readers!
Enter To Win:
* CONGRATULATIONS TO * our 3 winners of Today In a Manger : #60 Christina Burrell, #63 Shannon, #30 melissa C. You’ll be contacted for mailing info!
1. Share a comment or blog post by Midnight Sunday 12/18/11.
For Extra Entries:
2. Subscribe to Faith Barista and leave an extra comment letting me know.
3. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter (Click the “Share/Save” button below) and leave extra comments letting me know.
* CONGRATULATIONS TO * Our 5 winners of What’s In The Bible Christmas Giveaway: #69 Tanya, #53 Jenny YH, #71 Katy, #45 Melissa C #24 Mary Mauk. You’ll be contacted shortly for contact info!
*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — FAITH BARISTA JAM! ***
Faith Barista Jam Thursdays — I serve up a topic of faith, you write the post. Keep faith fresh with a faith prompt and add your voice to this community.
Today’s topic: Share your Unwrapping Jesus Discoveries
Next Thursday 12/22: Which character in the Christmas story is speaking to you?
Share your post by clicking on the blue button below “Add Your Link”. You can also share directly by simply commenting below.
Keep a lookout for:
*1. Ways to celebrate Christmas simply.
*2. Inspiring moments that fill you with God’s love, joy, peace, or hope.
*3. Encouragement to see Christmas in a new way.
*4. A Fresh Take on the Gift of Jesus.
Approach it any way you feel inspired! Only required ingredient: keep it real.
Please place the “Faith Jam” Badge in your post and help build the Keep Fresh Fresh Community. Thanks!
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Who knows? Maybe you’ll get a special message you didn’t expect.
On second thought, if you take up the journey — I know you will.
Build the Keep Fresh Fresh Community: Link back to Faith Barista or grab this month’s special Christmas Faith Barista Jam Badge to place in your post. Click here.
It’s a jam session. As time allows, say hi & drop a comment when visiting the community faith blends!
A week before Christmas and I’m also going through shifts. Reading these words today remind me that the answer is in the slowing down. Mindfulness, consciousness…these are my keys during this shifting. He’ll show what to let go of and how I fit in His story.
Thank You Bonnie. Hope you don’t mind I stopped by and linked up early. Tomorrow/Thursday is calling us away from being online most of the day. Nevertheless, I have your life words to soothe my soul before bed.
p.s. I couldn’t wait and had to get it on my Mac. I’ve been so hungry for Jesus in Christmas this year. Thanks for this resource. You’ve given me a gift of meaning.
Today is my last day in the office until Jan. 3. It will be a slowing down Christmas holiday.
Thanks for hosting, Bonnie.
this year i am doing a lot more talking to my girls about what Jesus wants for his birthday than what they want for Christmas. i know they will be happy and (hopefully) grateful for what we have gotten them because i know them and i know what they like. but this Christmas i am diving in, getting covered in Jesus. i am really seeking His love and His will for me. He started speaking to me around Thanksgiving this year-choose love, live in freedom, gratitude. this Christmas has been about discovering what that means in my life right now.
Thank you for this, Bonnie. I needed that reassurance that it is not too late to slow down. Today, I find myself at home with two boys who are done with preschool until January, and one boy in particular who needs a little extra Mommy attention. We are going to have a slowed down day, even though errands need to be run, etc. I think Jesus would approve 🙂
I subscribe ~
Thanks for the reminder to slow down. I have consciously tried to do it this Christmas, and all the great reminders from like-minded bloggers have helped to inch me forward in my slow-paced, Christ-centered Advent. It is quite a challenge~ to give up some of the business, shopping, things I feel are ‘traditions’~ but the reward inside is great. Blessings~
I am nowhere close to being ready for Christmas. The presents haven’t been bought, let alone wrapped! It is easy for me to stay in the true spirit of Christmas, but it harder to do it when I fall into the trap of trying to meet everyone else’s expectations……
I shared your giveaway of Facebook!
Oh, friend–I’m right there with you! So there!
Praying you rich blessings of rest.
Linking up with you today for the first time. Hugs.
I am already a Faith Barista subscriber!
Oh Bonnie…10 Days before Christmas this year is like none I’ve never had before!! I know that HE has a plan, and HE is leading me in unchartered waters, and it’s not horrible….just different!!
So I’m praying that I’ll get my heart in the place it needs to be (not just 10 Days before Christmas, but every day!!) and put my desire for my Christmas traditions aside to live daily in Christmas Spirit….
Love your heart…
I am a subscriber but also shared this blog with my DIL who just said she feels something is missing from this Christmas. God Bless you, my friend, and thank you!
I subscribe! Love these emails….
I already subscribe to Faith Barista.
Loved this idea of prayerfully placing myself in the Christmas story…shared the post on facebook, too!
One week — commercially, it isn’t going to happen for us. Spiritually, I am hoping and waiting for myself to discover Him. I know he is there — I’ve experienced so much because of Him. He will be back — and we better be ready. I personally can’t wait. I’m ready.
Since our first child was about 2 years old, we’ve intentionally crafted our Christmas to be relaxed, recognizing that to do it the way others expect (there’s that expectation word again!) us to do it would essentially ruin and spoil our celebration of Christ’s birth. So, we’re having a lovely, quiet time over here. 🙂
[…] Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped, Bonnie at Unwrapping Jesus, and Michelle for Thought Provoking Thursday. Unwrapping the gifts we often overlook in the […]
Just joined your site a couple of days ago. Looking forward to reading your blog.
Ten days before Christmas and I’m taking deep breaths. Just a few gifts left to buy for those dearest to us. Taking deep breaths and reminding myself to soak it all in.
I already subscribe to Faith Barista. I was surprised I had not “liked” you on FB already! I agree — we all need to slow down especially as things get more harried and hectic. Just got to get my herbal, organic hot tea and re-read again. We need God’s presence, not presents! God bless you, Bonnie, for giving us His Word daily!
Wow, I needed this! We are going through a major transition time, too, and I needed this ¨re-focusing¨. This book sounds awesome. Thanks for offering it!
I am already subscribed to Faith Barista.
I shared your giveaway on facebook.
Thank you for this Bonnie! The photographer in me loves the contrast you have shown in saying that it’s possible to slow down on the inside even when this season needs us to run a bit to keep up with the deadlines that are built in on the outside. I’m going to remember this today, a day that will have me running!
With all the end of year shopping rush, we sometimes get caught up. Thanks for posting and reminding us that it’s not too late to slow down and really remember that it’s all because of Jesus. Looking forward to sinking deeper into the word and making the journey to Bethlehem.
p.s Already a subscriber 🙂
I also subscribe too. But these words were just what i needed. I have been overwhelmed by my lack of organization this year and not having my shopping done and I realized today…slowing down is really what I need so I can hear my sweet Jesus talk to my heart. Thank you so much.
I won’t have a problem finding time for Jesus this year. This year is the worse economic hardship we have faced and if it wasn’t for God and my ex husband, we’d all be out in the cold, homeless and with no food. The only decoration up is a tiny Christmas tree I bought for my granddaughter years ago (she’s 11 now). I don’t get Christmas presents except from my ex-daughter-in-law who gave me one of her Coach handbags that she only used once. (It was actually a gift from her sister-in-law last year!) I’m not telling you this so you will feel bad for me. I can probably identify with one of the shepherds in the field right about now. I have asked God what am I supposed to see through all this? (Mind you, I am the only baptized Christian in my house right now. I live with my biker son, his girlfriend, my granddaughter and now a friend of his who just got out of jail and needed a place to stay. And this alone is a test of everything you can think of as a Christian.) But God has me in this situation for a reason that may go beyond the usual ones I can think of. So yes, I have plenty of time to spend with Christ alone and maybe gain a new perspective I’ve been desperately wanting to have. I do have a lot to be thankful for.
On the outside, I’m still not ready–still have gifts to wrap and buy. And I wish that didn’t affect me so much on the inside. But your words here help, Bonnie. Thank you.
I tell myself every year, I will slow down and get things done early so I can ENJOY the holidays and year after year I find myself stressed and not in a joyous mood!
I needed to hear these words today, just in time to SLOW DOWN and reflex on the REASON for the season, not just the season itself!
Your words and relfections are always words that help me through the day!
Your post makes me smile because our thoughts are running on the same tracks. Elisabeth is the character capturing my imagination this year. Maybe I’ve reached “that certain age,” or maybe it’s because I also am beyond childbearing. In any case, I’ve spent no little time meditating on her and her experience as a pregnant menopausal woman before home tests and modern obstetrics. No wonder she hid herself until the fifth month when she was clearly showing the baby within and he had begun to kick! Anyhow, all that imagining means I have a post up and ready that exactly suits your invitation, but it’s a week early.
Thank you for the encouragement that all he wants is me, not my productivity. I am feeling nudged to let go of toffee-making this year, which would be the first year in 10 without it. Other creative expressions feel more important this season. Your post seems confirmation of that.
Grace to you, Bonnie! May Jesus unwrap more of Himself to you today.
(I’m subscribed, too.)
Good reminder to slow down…and I love the idea of seeing which Christmas story character I might walk with this year…
and for a second giveaway entry, I linked to this blog entry on facebook…I’m hoping LOTS of my friends dip in and enjoy…
I would love to win.
Would lve towin
I loved your message today!
Oh, and I am a subscriber to Faith Barista.
Sounds like a great book
I think the more we can focus on Jesus the better our Christmas celebration becomes. 🙂
I just have to say that when I got to the part addressing “Bonnie” in red, I forgot for a few moments that your name is Bonnie too and I felt like God was speaking to me. Ten days before Christmas and the proverbial “plates are spinning”… I have many decisions to make of a serious nature in the next ten days to the end of the year. But it blew me away to see “my name” as if God was speaking to me through your blog. Slow down.
Spend some time with Me. Make a pot of tea (I am Scottish … though I live in the USA… and am a big tea drinker along with the occasional hot chocolate… I make a mean “Hot French Vanilla and Chocolate with Whipped Cream on top”… happy to send the recipe if folks are interested… and don’t drink coffee but love your blog !) I would love a signed copy of the book as along with my “big” decisions… I have also been thinking a lot about making Christmas more meaningful… the whole season… I start celebrating from the day after Thanksgiving up ’til Epiphany in January… and at this point with several invitations to do this and that… plus church and family plans… am feeling the “pressure”. Yet, what I truly want to do is stay home “with Jesus” a lot more than I want to go to parties and make life more hectice. I want Heavenly Peace. Literally.
well, I have to slow down…I broke my arm and elbow and in a cast
I slowed down and dialed down a lot this year. After preparing my December (in)courage post… I knew I needed to listen to my own words! Focus on The Best Part this season. I did all of my decorating in one weekend at the beginning of the month and have been enjoying everything about Christmas ever since! 🙂
As the mother of four, I am continually trying to remind my children of God’s plan for His Son at Christmas and how that leads one naturally to the cross. As we sit each night before our regular prayer time, we read a story about Christmas – funny, sad, poignant stories of others finding the Christ of Christmas. It’s our tradition. I am ashamed to say though, that the nightly reading rarely continues through January of the next year. So, my challenge is to “dial down” as you say the rest of the year – in order to enjoy Jesus all year long!
I’ve also been a subscriber for some time…via iGoogle!
I subscribe to your blog. I love reading what God puts in your heart to share! Your sharing has certainly impacted my view of “unwrapping” Jesus this Christmas season! Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing Christ with others! Merry Christmas!
I already had so much to my december 3 of my 5 kids had their birthday, and I turned a year older too 😉 one niece & one nephew had a birthday and I have one more nephew and a brother who still has a birthday. Remembering two grandparents that passed in december and another that just died this year Dec.10th 🙁 also This will be the first Christmas since I lost my dad on July 21 (this was heartbreaking!) but also my baby’s first Christmas she was born May 24th that was a great blessing she was our surpise given by God alone and also our last ;-). This weekend she will be dedicated to the Lord and we will have a memorial for our recently departed Grandma. Also be part of our Church’s Christmas play and have a Christmas celebration with my hubbys family 39 in all thats just his parents brothers, sisters and all their kids. BUT in the midst of all this busyness and choatic scheduling the most important thing we do is CELEBRATE Jesus!! and His birth and Life because without Him we couldn’t make it through any of this, the good or especially the bad. Wishing you and all your readers that no matter how good, bad or both this December is for them that they will have a blessed season and in the all that comes their way we all remember why life is possible for us all, Because a baby was born and grew to be a man and then took on the sins of a world that did not deserve it but because of LOVE he did it all. and now I can get through my days without my dad because I know he is in Heaven and I WILL see him again.
A week before Christmas and I feel like it could be a year before. In some ways I’m very ready . . . in others I feel like it could be February and there’s still 10 months ahead of me.
Oh—and I already subscribe via email. 🙂
I had to laugh… I had a rough day yesterday, and through some tears that my hubby so graciously let me shed, I came to the conclusion that all I want this Christmas is to really dwell on the incarnation of our Savior – to let that really sink in. This morning, with puffy eyes, I opened this post. I don’t get to opening them as often as I’d like, but today is my birthday and I thought I’d open it as a gift…. Then I read:
You can let go.
What I really want is you.
It’s not too late.”
And I, too (like Bonnie Jean [and I’m a Bonnie Jean, too!]) forgot that YOUR name was Bonnie. So that was a direct soul whisper from God to my heart!
Thank you so much, Bonnie, for my little “gift” this morning! Merry Christmas!
This is very true. I find myself trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone and stressing when really I just need to slow down and focus on the One Gift that really matters!!
I am now subscribed!
Interesting thought to get “in to a character”. Have you ever considered God’s other creations.. the stars and the animals? They were a huge part in the birth of our Lord & Saviour. If they could talk, we would be amazed; but God used each of them in a special way all the way to the manger. Are we using our gifts for Him?
This Christmas is hard…I told myself it would be “good” no matter what but reality has set in as we get closer and closer to “the day.” But a sweet lady from church encouraged me tonight and I’m so thankful for her! On the bright side, because of it being harder this year, the distractions are limited as it’s making me prioritize life in general. Loved this post!
I so agree with this: “Whenever we step out in faith, our world shifts.” And yet I still need to remind myself of this truth!
Great call to slow and be aware of His presence, Bonnie.
(And thank you, as always, for hosting us each week.)
I think your questions are very important for us to ask ourselves. So often we prioritize, or make into an idol, the to-do lists we make for Christmas — how many of them are truly important? Our busy life came to a screeching halt this summer when we were in a life-threatening accident. There’s so much we do that isn’t really that important after all. It’s good to pause and take account and prayerfully ask God what we should and shouldn’t do with our time and energy — especially at Christmas. Thanks for this reminder. Blessings, Alyssa
Such a great reminder. I’m thankful for change and growth and shifting (even those things that appear ‘bad’ at this moment), but the only reason any of it makes sense is because He doesn’t change. He is immovable, unshakable, and unalterable. What a glorious thought to meditate on. Thanks for helping with the slowing down, Bonnie. Much appreciated. 🙂
I put this on my fb!
I just subscribed to you mommyangel96 at yahoo.
I love that you put yourself into the Christmas story each year. What a great way for God to teach you more about that Christmas night. 🙂 I like to imagine what it was like when for everyone when all the “excitement” was over. This Christmas my goal is to slow down and keep my eyes and ears open to his story and how it translates in my life. You know, the slowing down in the hardest part. Thanks for reminding me there is still time!
shared on FB
This Christmas is hard. I told myself it would be good because I knew it would be a challenge but as it gets closer, the reality of everything else is starting to hit. But it also helps me realize what’s really important in life without the usual distractions.
A week. Only a week. And I’ve yet to decorate or begin to shop. I’ve been forced into dialing down this year. Forced simplicity. Assessing priorities. A good thing in its own way.
This year I’m going at a much slower pace. I hadn’t put all the usual decor but more than anything I want my heart to be adorned with Christ. I subscribed to your blog via email.
Thanks for this post. This is my first year celebrating the Advent season and I am always looking for new reminders to keep me focused on this season of waiting. Slowing down and letting go is possible, I just need to do it!
This past week has been hectic with children’s parties at school. But now I have two weeks off work and today all I did was rest. I haven’t put up my Christmas tree yet. But I did write a devotional for Laced with Grace called “The Reason for the Season”. I find that the best way to get into the Christmas story is to give my whole heart to Jesus. That’s what I wrote about.
I plan to spend this week decorating but I also plan to spend much time in prayer and reading many Christmas devotionals. I’m also reading Billy Graham’s book called “Nearing Home”. I’m not in any rush to go anywhere; just slowing down.
I didn’t write this comment to be entered in the giveaway but I’ll check out the book on amazon. I also wanted to stop by and say Merry Christmas to you Bonnie. I read the topic for next week’s jam session and so I want to participate.
Blessings and love,
I love the idea of stepping into someone else’s shoes from the story of Jesus. To look with new eyes at a story I know so well. As Christmas nears I so want there to be more time for Jesus – the real reaason for the season.
What a lovely giveaway – one I would treasure.
I do subscribe and value the subscription. Thanks!
I subscribe to Faith Barista. I love your blog, Bonnie, and appreciate the “unwrapping Jesus” on Thursdays! Great reminder it’s not too late to slow down and to put yourself in the Christmas Story. Merry Christmas!
I shared this post on facebook.
Thank you Bonnie for shining a different light on how I feel today. I guess this is actually the week of Christmas now and I am confused on how it got here so fast… I am going through the motions but not enjoying the moments the way I would like to. Thank you for reminding me it is not too late. Even if Christmas Sunday comes and I still don’t feel “ready” God is with me everyday not just during December.
Be well, and keep on Faith walking and talking! God bless you and your ministry.
I have subscribed to your posts!:D