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Keep Singing, with Laura Booz

In the midst of all your planning and preparing for Christmas this week, we hope you’ll take time to reflect on our true source of hope and perspective—Jesus. Let Laura Booz and the Grounded hosts encourage you to embrace the hubbub of the season and keep singing!

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Episode Notes

Expect Something Beautiful by Laura Booz

Expect Something Beautiful Podcast

The First Songs of Christmas: A 31-Day Advent Devotional by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

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Erin Davis: ‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all over our screens, the Grounded sisters were filled with joy, and starting to sing. Welcome to grounded. I'm Erin Davis. 

Portia Collins: And I'm Portia Collins. Grounded is a production of Revive Our Hearts. And we want to be among the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas with this special podcast, and videocast. We typically record live every Monday morning, and we're always so happy to be with you. 

Erin: Oh, man, we are. Portia, I feel like I gotta fess up. I had this idea. I'm always getting the gang in on these crazy ideas. I said, why don't we all wear ugly Christmas sweaters for this episode? And then I forgot. So Portia’s rockin’ the festive wear for all of us, and I, next time next year, I'll remember . . .I hope. 

Well, this is the week that we anticipate all year long, isn't it? I mean, those of us who observe the Advent, we've been counting down the days. We open little doors on a little calendar at my house. And listen, let's be honest about how this week's gonna go. There's gonna be highs, and there's going to be lows. There's going to be sweet moments, and there's maybe going to be some not so sweet moments. That happens too. But I hope you have some moments of quiet reflection. I hope that you experience that peace on earth we're going to be singing about. But I also know there are going to be moments of chaos. Our hope for you overall, though, is that this will be a week of singing. 

Portia: Absolutely. We've got a short and sweet episode for you this morning. That's our gift to you. We just want to help you take a few moments today to focus on the true source of hope and perspective, Jesus. 

Erin: Yup, that’s why we're here Jesus. Yep, Hope has name, His name is Jesus and everything that happens this week every week is for Him.

We're going to start with a story that is a part of my Christmas memories. Maybe it's a part of yours. My mom was so good about fostering a love for books and stories in our home. So, we would gather around, and we had a great version of The Nutcracker story she would read or ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I've carried that on with my own kids. They get to unwrap a Christmas book every day, and we read it. It's the same books year after year. I'm not buying them that many books, but every December they open a book a day. We have The Polar Express, which I love. We have one about Santa ninjas. That's also pretty fun. They're not all sentimental, but I just love all of the Christmas stories. I want you to have the day that listening to a Christmas story by the fire feeling, so we brought in one of our favorite storytellers, Laura Booz. 

Portia: Yeah. We hope that you already know her as the host of the podcast, Expect Something Beautiful. So go ahead, pour yourself a cup of something warm and yummy. 

Erin: What are you drinking this morning, Portia?

Portia: Coffee. Look, I've been on my coffee kick lately, so I'm gonna switch it up. 

Erin: It doesn’t have to be coffee. Have you ever had hot wassail?

Portia: Yes, yes. I love apple cider, and hot chocolate is good this time of year. 

Erin: Yeah, I make that Christmas Eve with the good stuff—with Hershey bars and the real whip cream.

Portia: Oh, send me some. 

Erin: I will. 

Portia: But yeah, find yourself a spot near some Christmas lights or your Christmas tree. And listen as Laura reads a sweet story that may become probably one of your new favorite Christmas stories. And keep your Bible handy, because we are going to open God's Word together soon. So, take it away, Laura.

Story Time with Laura Booz (8:53)

Laura Booz: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. I am so happy to read a Christmas story to you from my new book. It's called Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood. I'm going to read an excerpt from chapter 10. 

Now, my bookmark this chapter is called “Kindness Toward Children.” It all starts when we had four adorable kiddos, and we had just returned from the Christmas Tree Farm. The kids were bubbling with excitement. We took off hats, gloves, and boots and warmed up by the fire while Ryan propped the tree in the living room and snipped the twine that was round, round, around the limbs.

We all cheered as the tree open to its original shape. The kids inhaled the tree’s piney scent, and they took turns twirling in the tree skirt. Needless to say, my energy level did not match theirs. Trekking through the rolling hills of Fraser Firs with energetic 10-, 7-, 4- and 1-year-olds, while managing morning sickness. 

I had just discovered that I was pregnant, and it had worn me out. I only wanted to put my feet up. As I sat on the couch, I reviewed my holiday to-do list. In the days to come, we would celebrate Advent, hang twinkle lights, read holiday books, bake cookies, shop for presents, make presents, wrap presents, watch movies, and listen to hours of Christmas music. 

That's when I remembered I had also agreed to help organize a children's choir to sing at the Christmas Eve service. I was in over my head. We often participated in the Christmas Eve service at our church. And this year, Ryan and I were organizing a children's choir to sing “Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven.” My first task was to teach the song to our children so they could sing confidently when we gathered the rest of the choir for rehearsal. Our 10- and 7-year-old daughters learned it immediately. Their sweet voices lilted like angels. Our 4-year-old, on the other hand, struggled to remember the words no matter how hard he tried. We would get three measures into the song, and he would collapse to the floor in big boohoo tears because he had forgotten the words. 

And our 1-year-old wanted to sit on my lap, play the piano, empty the closet, eat a snack, drink some milk, and take a nap all at the same time. My memory could be playing tricks on me, but I'm pretty sure this happened. Every time we gathered around the piano to sing. I lost my patience on more than one occasion. I'd clench my jaw and bribe the little ones to stop crying for one blessed minute. It was never the homey “I'll Be Home for Christmas” scene you may imagine. 

But one rehearsal was different from the rest. As usual, my 4-year-old was crying, my 1-year-old was screaming, and the girls quite discouraged were furtively watching for my reaction. We were all fed up with one another, and the moment was anything but holy. This time I was listening to the lyrics. The older girls sang about our precious Lord Jesus, who came as a helpless baby, crying, and needing his mother to hold Him. He came sharing our smiles and tears, hungering for relationship, and facing all manner of danger. They sang about how Jesus came to take away our darkness and transform us from strangers into children of God. 

In the cacophony, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God was being kind to us when He sent Jesus to share our human struggle. He was being kind when He offered to remove our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. As I played the piano and the chaos continued, I knew Jesus was in our midst, supporting us in our flailing attempt to create something beautiful. He was sustaining us when we botched it all up. Caught up in the truth of the song, I smiled and raised my voice above the din to say, “Keep singing girls. Jesus came from moments just like this one.”

Fortified by my encouragement, the girls sang the rest of the song with gusto. I played the melody with my right hand and wrapped my left arm around my teary 4-year-old and hungry 1-year-old, who continued to cry until the end of the song. I played the final chord and hugged all four of them, thanking God for His kindness in sending Jesus as a baby for us. 

This wasn't the first or the last time God lavished me with kindness in motherhood. In fact, if I had to identify the source of my well-being in motherhood, I would point to God's kindness every day, from the rising of the sun, to the food we eat, to the voices we employ. God's kindness makes us flourish. It transforms homes into havens and makes life worth living. The Psalmist said, this “Because the loving kindness is better than life. My lips shall praise thee.”

Now, let me read the conclusion of that scene that comes up at the end of that chapter. Here's how it goes.

Don't ask me how we all arrived at church on Christmas Eve wearing festive dresses and sweater vests and most of our shoes, but we did. Our bellies were full and warmed by our traditional Christmas Eve shepherd’s meal of soup and bread. The sanctuary glowed with soft candlelight as the children took their places on stage for the opening song. Before walking up to direct the choir, I tucked our sleepy 1-year-old in Grandmom’s arms where she snuggled in contentedly.

The song began, and I looked over the faces of the children in the choir. Our older daughter stood in the back row and sang with all their might. Our brave 4-year-old stood in the front row, and yes, forgot the words. And yes, began to cry, but stopped himself, pulled his shoulders back, and sang the rest of the song. There was no doubt about it. This Christmas Eve sparkled with the kindness of a Savior, come to earth to serve His hungry, fragile children and give them life. 

This time, the only person crying through the entire song was me. Oh, by the way, six months later, in the middle of the summer, when we weren't singing Christmas carols anymore. Guess who suddenly began singing “Jesus Joy of the Highest Heavens” from beginning to end? Guess who proceeded to sing that carol for a full year as her anthem, her bedtime song, and her swinging song? That precious 1-year-old. She had been listening the whole time.

Erin: There it is. That warm Christmas feeling they don't want to miss. Got some tears in my eyes. 

Portia: Me too. 

Erin: Because we think, Oh, the chaos. That can't be what Jesus wants us to do. But you reminded us that Jesus is kind in that chaos. Thank you for that story, Laura. 

Portia: Yes, thank you. 

Grounded in God's Word: The Christmas Story (17:25)

Erin: I hope as you were listening, you were reminded of the kindness of your Savior. And this morning, as we were thinking about this episode and what we wanted you to walk away with; we talked about it, we prayed about it, and we decided that what you need most in the five days before Christmas is a moment as free of distraction as you can get. And maybe in the midst of all the chaos, to hear one more story, the story, the Christmas story. 

And so, we are going to read to you the passages from the book of Isaiah, and the book of Luke. I hope you hear him a lot this week. I hope that where you live, there are kids Christmas pageants with the tinsel halos and the glued-on angel wings. We don't have one at my church this year, and I'm totally bummed about it. But I hope as we read them to you, as we read them all over you, as we read them as prayers for you, that you're going to feel blessed by them. I know you will. 

And as we read, we're going to take a page from my friends at She Reads Truth. And when we get to the end of a passage, we're going to say “this is for you and this is for now,” because this is an ancient story, but it is also for you. And it is for now for this moment. So, Portia, kick us off reading to us from the book of Isaiah. 

Portia: Alright, so we're going to be in Isaiah, the 9th chapter. I'm going to read verses 2 and 3, and then skip down and read verses 6 and 7. It says:

The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
   on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
   you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
   as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
   there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
   to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
   from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Erin: This is for you, and this is for now.

Portia: This is for you, and this is for now. 

Erin: Amen. Laura, will you take us to maybe more a traditional part of the Christmas story? In Luke chapter 2 I'd love it if you'd read us the first seven verses of that chapter.

Laura:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Laura and Erin: This is for you. And this is for now.

Erin: Amen. Okay, hold your breath. I'm about to take us to the angels in this story. And they are breathtaking. I'm going to read us Luke chapter 2, verses 8 through 14. 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

I love that you serve a shepherd meal on Christmas eve night, Laura.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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.” 

Okay, I want to lay down on my table right now and weep over this amazement in this, but I’ll pick it up in verse 11.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

Friend, this is for you and this is for now. Portia, carry us to the end of this story. 

Portia: Yes, I'd be happy to. I gotta say this. I know everybody at home watching this sees me keep looking up, because I love looking at your faces, as you read Scripture. There is nothing like seeing a woman's face light up reading God's Word. So that's a blessing to me, guys. 

Alright, I'm picking up at verse 15 in Luke chapter 2. It says,

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

This is for you and this is for now. 

Erin: It sure is.

Reflecting on the Christmas Story (22:24)

Laura: Oh, girls, I'm so glad we took some time to read that story together. The story of why Christmas is so meaningful. You know, we sing that song about it being a silent night. But reading this, it doesn't sound very silent to me. There was a lot of going on. There's a good purpose to it. There are people to love and serve. And there's things, good things we have on our hearts to do. And those things are for God. Let's just keep singing through it.

Erin: Just like the angels did, right?

Laura: Just like the angels.

Erin: Laura, you and I were kind of exchanging ideas about this. We were sending voice memos, as mamas tend to do. My two older boys were playing basketball, my 3-year-old was lost as he always is. I'm always like, Ezra, where are you? Erza where are you? Judah’s got a stick that he's turned into a bow and arrow. It was chaotic. And you were saying these things like: there's this hubbub, but it's got purpose, it's got meaning. That has been meaningful to me. I hope it's been meaningful to you that even in the midst of all that, not in spite of all of that, we can sing. 

There's this moment. It happens every Christmas season for me. I'll cry just thinking about it. It is the most sacred moment of my year, year after year. It’s candlelight service at my church. I mean, whatever else is going on, that is a non-negotiable, the Davis family gets ourselves to church on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service, and the pastor preaches a sermon. Then the room goes dark. He builds up the drama, let's hang for just a moment. And then he lights a single candle, and he starts to sing. As he starts to sing, the rest of us start to sing. He takes a few steps down for the first few and He lights a candle on either side, and they light the candles beside them. And before long, everybody is singing, and everybody's face is bathed in light. We start out kind of quiet. But as the room gets lit up, I mean we sing with all our hearts. 

Because what happened on Christmas is so meaningful to us. We know who the Light is. We are no longer a people walking in darkness. We want to declare He is the hope of the world. So, we don't have candles here on Grounded, and I don't know how to translate that virtually or digitally. And singing in technology can be a little clunky, but we just want to invite you into the light and hope of that season. 

So, Portia is our singer laureate around here on Grounded.

Portia: I don't know about that. 

Erin: I know there are poet laureates, but I just made that up. So, Portia, could you just lead us in one stanza of “Joy to the World.” 

Portia: Absolutely. All of you that are watching, I want you to sing at home with me. Sing a little stanza; you got the words in front of you. Let's just magnify the Lord.

Erin: Before you sing, Laura, just recreate that moment for us. Just put your arms around us from where you are and say whatever you said to those girls.

Laura: I will keep saying, “Girls, keep singing. Jesus came for moments like this.”

Erin: He did. 

Portia: Alright, let's do it.

Joy to the world the Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing.
And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing.
 

Erin: Portia, I’m lighting my candle. The only candle I have here is my phone, but oh, your organ-playing grandma and your piano-playing mama would be so proud of you, hearing you sing “Joy to the World.” Merry Christmas friends. 

Portia: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Laura: Merry Christmas. Hey, before we go, can I read one more thing? 

Erin: Sure.

Laura: It’s no coincidence that Nancy's Advent devotional is called The First Songs of Christmas this year. And I couldn't believe my eyes. But I looked at the end of it last night. And the very last two sentences of the devotional that you'll get to at the end of the month is, “Keep singing.” I'm not joking, keep carrying the songs of Christmas. 

So, I would love to read this closing prayer for you—you precious woman who is listening and watching today.

Thank you, Lord, for ministering so personally to us this Christmas. Thank you for throwing wide the window on Your mercy and power, evoking from us a fresh intensity of worship. And as You carry us into the new year tomorrow [well, in the new year when it comes] help us enter it with a song on our lips, the song of your salvation, more precious to us than ever, and eagerly shared at every opportunity. Amen.

Portia: Amen.

Erin: Merry Christmas. 

Portia: Merry Christmas.

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guest

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan, and their six children. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.