christmas 2018 reflections

Merry Christmas, friends!

It’s Christmas eve and I’m sitting in my favorite chair in front of my portable heater in our living room. The sunlight is streaming in the room, our tree is twinkling (the branches are also droopy because we got it the weekend after Thanksgiving, ha!) and my pup is perched on the ottoman snoozing away.

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I’m on my second cup of coffee and just savoring the fact that for the first time in I don’t-know-how-long, I don’t have much to do. I’m grateful that I got most of our Christmas shopping done at the beginning of December and have tried to be diligent with wrapping them and juggling other holiday commitments.

That said, I realize that I haven’t been super-present here on the blog recently, but I wanted to take some time to write out what I’ve felt, learned and experienced throughout this Advent and Christmas season to share with y’all and to look back on.

I mentioned briefly on Instagram that I was doing an Advent study on my own for the first time and I absolutely loved it. I used the All Good Things Collective Advent study, which featured a journal and a calendar illustrated by Morgan Harper Nichols. Each card had a prompt and the journal had a scripture for each day and space to write out the verses and reflect. In a time of year when it’s so easy to get caught up in the madness, rushing from commitment to commitment and checking off the to-do list, I really enjoyed centering myself each day prior to work or whatever the day would bring. I’m grateful that the study helped me savor the season and reflect upon the anticipation of the gift of Jesus this season.

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One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I love to pick the photo and card and send them to our loved ones, near and far. Ever since we have gotten married, I’ve made it a priority to send out cards to our friends and family. Our cards vary from year to year— sometimes we have a photo taken, sometimes we use an iPhone photo (which we did this year!), sometimes it’s a postcard, sometimes we include a little life update, etc… you get the gist. This year I chose a simple design from Minted with the word “REJOICE”. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O, Holy Night” and this year in particular, these lines felt like the best way to share our hearts this Christmas season:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
’Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

This year has brought so many blessings, but anyone who is close to me knows there have also been a lot of personal struggles, as well. There’s been a lot of pining. And I definitely entered this Advent season feeling weary. I think a lot of us can end up feeling like this, in one way or another, throughout or at different times of the year… which is why I chose the word “rejoice” for our card this year.

We went to a Christmas service last night and sang this song and it almost brought tears to my eyes. One line that I hadn’t considered in all of this:

“‘Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”

Though I consider myself a believer and a follower of Jesus, as a people-pleaser and Type 2 (anyone else obsessed with the Enneagram!?) I find myself viewing my worth in the eyes of others far too often. And it makes me tired. And anxious.
BUT.
We celebrate that God is here— Emmanuel, God with us— and he humbled himself to come to our weary world as a baby to rescue us. And because of Him, I know my worth and my value as His daughter. And He loves me no matter what. I pray that I remember to rest in that all year long.

So, friends. I’ll leave you with this line:

“A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices!”

It’s my hope and prayer that if you’re weary like I am, that you’ll find reason to rejoice this Christmas season, knowing that you have been given the ultimate gift— the gift of Jesus Christ and His unending love and grace. And though there are still hard things— grief, worry and pain— let us remember that He is faithful and that He will once again come and make all things new. I hope that you will rest in that promise this Christmas, sweet friends.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xo,
Ryann

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my favorite faith resources

I’ve never really been an early bird, but last summer I started getting up earlier in the morning to do my Bible study and enjoy my coffee. Starting the morning slow and with intention has been the BEST change I’ve made for myself. I actually look forward to getting up early, thanks to my morning coffee and these two resources- my SheReadsTruth Bible and my Cultivate What Matters Write the Word journal.

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Write the Word Journals || I used to get discouraged digging into scripture, not sure what book of Bible to read, feeling guilty if I missed a day in a dated devotional... you know the feeling. But Write the Word journals from Cultivate What Matters are different. Their grace-filled pages encourage you to explore the Bible, dig into a particular topic, and focus on God's word. These journals provide verse selections for you to write out (which is especially fun when you use colorful pens, like I do!) and space that I use to write commentary, my prayer for the day, and whatever else is on my heart. I love that the pages are undated, meaning that I don't have to feel guilty if I happen to miss a day. Some mornings I spend 10 minutes in my WTW journal, other days it's 45. These journals make scripture so much more attainable and approachable, and I can truly say that my day-to-day life has been changed by taking the time to dig in to my Write the Word journals over my morning cup of coffee!

No matter what season of life you're in, there's a WTW journal to guide you through it, such as Cultivate Hope, Cultivate Joy, Cultivate Gratitude, and more. Click here to peek inside the Write the Word journal and order one for yourself!

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She Reads Truth Bible || Andrew gave me this Bible as a gift last year and I am in love. You may be familiar with the community of She Reads Truth through their online Bible reading plans, but they also have an online shop full of valuable resources, including their Bible!

The SRT Bible is truly a work of art, a beautiful resource for better knowing God's Word and seeing its relevance in our lives and our world today. I have the She Reads Truth Bible with a linen cover in the beautiful, bright poppy color, which I keep out all the time as a reminder to dig in daily, but also because it's so dang pretty!

I've come to value the SRT Bible for the way it highlights the goodness, truth, beauty and relevance of scripture through devotional excerpts, helpful maps and timelines, verse art, reading plans and more. Each time I open up my SRT Bible, I'm excited to learn more and make connections with the text, using the space on each page to journal, underline, and truly engage with the gift of scripture and the truth it provides. Click here to take a look inside the SRT Bible!

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Each of these products are made with such love and intention, and I hope that sharing a little more about the role that they play in my daily life will encourage you to take a look if you've been searching for resources like I was.

What are some of your favorite books, studies, tools and resources for digging into God's Word? I'd love to hear about them!

xo, Ryann