The Joy of Christmas: Celebrating In 2020 (+Book Review)

Hello, my friend! Merry Christmas!

Today, despite all the festivities and fun you might be having, I’d like to remind you who Christmas is all about and wrap it into a special review of a book I’ve been reading this holiday season. Ready? Let’s get into it.

A Brief Book Review

During this Advent season, I have been reading David Mathis’s devotional called The Christmas We Didn’t Expect: Daily Devotions for Advent, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Mathis has covered the craziness and the unexpectedness of all the different aspects of Jesus’s birth and has reminded me constantly that this day is about Jesus.

If we push past the Santa Claus movies, crazy Christmas decorations, and the stress of gift-giving, and go all the way back down to the core of Christmas, we find Jesus. 

We find Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

We find Jesus lying in a manger. 

We find Jesus visited by shepherds and wise men. 

We find Jesus, the Son of God.

We find Jesus, the man who saved us all. 

Mathis lays that out in brief but powerful chapters for each day of Advent. Each devotion also has a beautiful closing prayer that helps guide you to speak with God after what you just read. I think I will be using this devotional next year as well, and I highly recommend you check it out too. 

The Good News

To quote Mathis’s devotional:

The real magic of Christmas is not in gifts and goodies, new toys and familiar traditions, indoor coziness and outdoor snow. What lies at the heart of Christmas, and whispers even to souls seeking to “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18), is the most stunning and significant fact in the history of the world: that God himself became one of us.

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, p. 11

Jesus came into the world in such a humble setting and He even went beyond that beginning and humbled Himself to the point of death for us (Philippians 2:8).

You know what else is great about Christmas, especially this year?

In the midst of the world’s troubles: the pandemic, family, finances, etc., we can still celebrate. Why? We can still celebrate because Jesus is worth celebrating. Even when our traditions go out the window, we suffer from loss and grief, and question this year as a whole, Jesus is worth celebrating.

The meaning of Christmas is not just that he was born among us but that he came to die for us. He came to secure for us eternal saving benefits.

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, p. 141

Maybe you physically or mentally can’t celebrate Christmas this year because it just hurts too much, doesn’t feel right, or something or someone is missing. However, there is good news. When the angels appeared to the shepherds that glorious night, they said,

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

Cling to that good news today and ask God to give you joy in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. Remember also the words of James when in trials and struggles:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

Even if we can’t have fun traditions, see family, or have the Christmas we want, we can still have and celebrate the Christmas we didn’t expect: the Christmas when God came down to ultimately give us the greatest gift of all. What is that great gift? Or should I say who is that great gift?

That great gift is Jesus, who saves people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Have a blessed Christmas, 

~Caroline

Songs For Celebration & Encouragement

Truth I’m Standing On – Leanna Crawford

Emmanuel You’re One Of Us – Rend Collective

Hope Has A Name – Passion

Today Is The Saviour’s Day – Rend Collective

4 Christian Books You Should Read (+ Giveaway!)

Hey there, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well! I don’t know about you, but I love reading. Usually I enjoy fiction more, but I occasionally dive into some nonfiction books as well. There’s a lot of stuff out there in the Christian author world, so I’d like to point you to some of my favorites.

One More Thing

These books I’m suggesting should not be your default for learning about our faith. Not every Christian book we read speaks the truth, and we must check everything and see if it lines up with our beliefs and the Bible. 

So when you read these books I recommend making sure it does line up with what you believe. Ask someone who’s ahead of you in faith, like a pastor, parent, or teacher, if you have questions. 

Love Riot by Sara Barratt 

Love Riot: A Teenage Call To Live With Relentless Abandon for Christ is not only an excellent book for teens but for anyone. It is a plead to every young person to go and actually live for Christ. To make the hard choices, glorify God, and to truly love Him.

Most Christians are content with blending in– but it’s time to step out. We’re on the brink of a revolution, a holy uprising, a love riot that can launch us from apathetic bystanders to wholehearted followers.

Sara Barratt, Love Riot

This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe 

Also for teens, This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms the Teen Years points out different parts of our lives as teenagers. From who we are as Christians to the importance of church and using our time wisely. Again, anyone and everyone should read this book. Even if it’s addressed to someone younger, you can still learn some great things from these books!

We’re told the gospel will change our lives, but we still fight against sin every day. It’s tempting to feel isolated and lonely like we’re the only Christian teenagers in the whole world trying to obey him. But there is a truth bursting with hope for us today: God is with us.

Jaquelle Crowe, This Changes Everything

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

I’ve already written a bit about this book, and you can find that post here, but I’d like to mention it again. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to really study the Bible. Again, I’m going to throw away the author’s intended audience and say even though this book is addressed to women, still read it if you’re not a woman as well. It talks about studying with perspective, getting the context right, and realizing the Bible is a book about God, not about us.

[This book] intends to teach you not merely a doctrine, concept, or story line, but a study method that will allow you to open up the Bible on your own.

Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

This was probably one of the harder books I’ve read. It talks about living for Christ and for Christ only, about not wasting our lives on foolish things and selfish gain. I believe everyone should read this book at some point, especially those students nearing the age where they’ll head out into the world on their own. It’s a harder read, but it’s a great one.

God created me–and you— to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion–namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

A Special Giveaway

Did you find a book on this list that particularly interested you? If you did, I have some special news for you. As we’re nearing 50 email subscribers on my blog, I’d like to do a giveaway for you guys. 

So, here’s how it works:

  1. Subscribe! If you’re already subscribed, you’re already entered.
  2. After we hit 50 subscribers, I’ll randomly draw one of you from the list to get a free book.
  3. If you’re picked, I’ll email you with instructions. You may pick any book on this list for me to give away to you.
  4. After you reply to the email I’ll send you the book!

Please note that you MUST live in the United States of America to qualify for this giveaway. If I email you and you do not live in the United States, you’ll have to pass on the giveaway and I’ll give it to someone else.

Subscribe here– hitting ‘follow’ on WordPress will not work! You must subscribe with this form:

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Success! You're on the list.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed and are excited for this giveaway! I’d also like to thank you guys for getting me this far; it’s such a blessing. I’ve only been blogging for a few months and I’m already so far! Thank you, reader, for well, reading! I hope my posts help you in some way.

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline

UPDATE: A winner has been chosen and confirmed! Congrats to the winner, and once again thank you all for subscribing!

Book Review: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Hello, friend! I hope you had a wonderful Easter with your family. Today we have a very special post, as it’s my first book review! This post will probably be shorter than most, but believe me, this book is good!

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts And Our Minds lays out the perfect strategy for any person to use, not just women. It starts by listing out ways we can study and interpret the Bible incorrectly, and honestly, I qualified in many of the categories she listed.

Jen Wilkin doesn’t leave us hanging with the new idea that our study is wrong. She then explains what she calls the “Five P’s of Sound Study.” They are: Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process, and Prayer. 

In each chapter, she goes over how to use each “P” in steps that are easy to understand. Closer to the end of the book, she shows an example of how to use all five “P’s’ together, a helpful tool after all the information she gives you.

Why We Need This Sound Study

Throughout the entire book, Jen Wilkin supports the idea that loving God means also knowing God. If we love something or someone, we often want to know the person or thing better. 

As we grow in the knowledge of God’s character throughout the study of the Word, we cannot help but grow an exponentially greater love for him.

Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word

Reading and studying the Bible is how we learn about God, and learning about God helps us see how great He really is. 

If you’re worried about simply understanding the Bible, this book goes over that too! She gives you tips for comprehending what you read, and then how to study and apply it. 

She also has her own Bible studies you can buy on her website here if you want some help getting started. 

What’s Happening Next?

I will be using the strategies explained in this book in future articles about Bible passages. The first book I’ll be going through is 1 Peter, so I encourage you to go buy Jen Wilkin’s book and read some of 1 Peter to prepare!

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading this book review! I hope you want to go read the book yourself now, and I hope that it will help you figure out how to study the Bible, especially if you’ve struggled with doing that for a while. I’ll see you next week!

Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline