Artful Advent - Joy

If I had to choose an emotion that sums up the Christmas season for me, I would choose joy. I'm an extrovert, so even the mad rush of people in the mall doesn't ruin my joy (seriously, we went shopping on Saturday... the mall was crazy... and besides getting separated from my husband and son for 15 minutes, I LOVED it!) I'm one of those weird people that enjoys being in the midst of chaos, seeing faces light up as they find the perfect gift for their loved one. I buy peppermint lattes to sip while I ride along in my car, enjoying every Christmas song that comes on the radio (except, "Christmas shoes." I admit, that one kills the joy a little bit). I sing along at the top of my lungs. And my heart is full.

Still... the most exciting place for me to be every Christmas season is coming up this weekend! Christmas candle light services at The Springs. Celebrating my Savior's birth along with thousands of others for FOUR NIGHTS straight?! Pure JOY.

The salvation we receive through Jesus Christ is the most exciting thing we could ever celebrate. But there is something about starting at the beginning of the story, with his birth, that makes it more human. Jesus had a birthday. The exact date? Probably forever a mystery. But December 25th, Christmas day, has been calculated to be the most probable time that Jesus was born.

And when he was born, there was a huge celebration! Angels were even sent to gather human beings to come together and worship at the feet of Jesus, the baby!

We shared this verse on our Christmas cards we sent out this year.

But the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great JOY to all people. The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" - Luke 2:10-11

Good news! Great JOY to all people!

If you are struggling to find joy this Christmas season, I urge you to start at the beginning. Go back to the point when you first heard about Jesus. Remember the feeling. That same great joy that came upon you at the moment of your salvation, was the same joy that came upon the shepherds when they heard about the Messiah's birth!

And oh, what a celebration it was! I bet there were drums and other instruments played for Jesus. Whatever gifts they could bring, both tangible and intangible, they gave with JOY.

I have to be honest, I was at a loss when thinking of a song to share for you all today for Artful Advent. I mean, I have all the joy in the world right now - but, every song I thought of seemed incapable of expressing that! So instead, I decided I would share a song that has brought me joy this past week as I listened to it. This song is one of the most joyful, upbeat Christmas songs out there and I think this group probably did the best version of it I have ever heard!

So I leave you... with "Little Drummer Boy" by Pentatonix.

Come they told me Pa rum pum pum pum A new born King to see Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring Pa rum pum pum pum To lay before the King Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

So to honor Him Pa rum pum pum pum When we come

Little baby Pa rum pum pum pum I am a poor boy too Pa rum pum pum pum I have no gift to bring Pa rum pum pum pum That's fit to give our King Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

Shall I play for you Pa rum pum pum pum On my drum

Mary nodded Pa rum pum pum pum The ox and lamb kept time Pa rum pum pum pum I played my drum for Him Pa rum pum pum pum I played my best for Him Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

Then He smiled at me Pa rum pum pum pum Me and my drum

Artful Advent - Love

Love. So many thoughts ran through my head as I tried to prepare for this week's Artful Advent theme. Which aspect of love do I focus on as we approach Christmas? The love of God sending His only son to save us. The love of Christ to willingly go to the cross for our sins. Or... how about the love of Mary to humbly give birth to our Savior?

In the spirit of advent, it is expected that I should talk about the love of Jesus. How his love changes everything. And it does, and I truly believe that.

But this year, I can't stop thinking about His birth. And Mary.

God could have sent Jesus down to earth as a grown man. But instead, He sent him as a baby. A newborn, who came into the world the same way you and I did. Through a labor. A hard, painful, uncomfortable labor. And in a stable, of all places.

Mary was no saint, or picture of perfection - but she was highly favored by God. Meaning, God had favor on her and gave her the ability to handle whatever was coming her way. Did you hear that? He gave her favor. She didn't earn it. And she humbly accepted the call on her life to be Jesus' birth mother.

Her love and devotion to trusting God sets her apart in my mind. She is an example for all of us. Especially now, for me, as a mother.

I am preparing to give birth to our second child in just a few months. Having been through this experience so recently, like 15 months ago, you would think this would make me more ready... or something. But really, I'm just as nervous as I was the first time.

Labor is hard and painful. It wore me out. I remember lying in bed afterwards, wondering what ridiculous woman came up with the lie that you "forget the pain" right after the child is born. I remembered and still felt a lot of it.

But holding my son today, I get it. I did forget the pain. And today, the only thing I can recall for you clearly... is the love I felt when I saw my little boy's face for the first time. Nothing in the world like it.

And Mary was able to experience the greatest love of all, by giving birth to the one who IS Love.

Amazing, isn't it?

Today I want to share I song I have been singing for years. But this is the first time I am singing it as a mother. As one who experienced labor, today, I am holding hands with Mary and rejoicing that God gave us both the gift of motherhood.

Only, hers was the labor of love that changed everything.

Labor of Love

It was not a silent night There was blood on the ground You could hear a woman cry In the alleyways that night On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean And the cobblestones were cold And little Mary full of grace With the tears upon her face Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain It was a cold sky above But for the girl on the ground in the dark Every beat of her beautiful heart was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side Callused hands and weary eyes There were no midwives to be found In the streets of David's town In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed Shafts of moonlight on his face But the baby in her womb He was the maker of the moon He was the Author of the faith That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain It was a cold sky above But for the girl on the ground in the dark With every beat of her beautiful heart It was a labor of love For little Mary full of grace With the tears upon her face It was a labor of love

// See past Artful Advent entries here.

>> Don't forget to link up below with your own art inspired by this week's theme!