Posts tagged Christmas Eve
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
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On Christmas Eve every year our family gathers ‘round to read the Christmas Story. We’ve read wonderfully illustrated classics, children’s stories, board books, and even the comic book version. Yet nothing quite delights the soul like reading straight from the Scriptures— right off the pages of Luke and Matthew.

Many years ago I wove those author’s words together with the idea of putting their stories in chronological order so that my children could hear the whole story from start to finish. Now we read it with our ministry team at Solid Rock- dividing the paragraphs so we get to hear everyone’s voice weave the mystery of God’s story into our hearts.

May His words fill your home with delight and wonder this Christmas.

From my heart,

Diane

If you'd like to print this story to read with your family, click here to download a printable PDF.


This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:

Luke 1v26v26-27 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

v28-30 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.“

v31-33 “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

v34-37 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

v38-40 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

v41-43 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

v44-45 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” And Mary said:

v46-55 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is His name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

v56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.


Matthew 1v19v19-21 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

v22-25 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


Luke 2v1v1-3In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

v4-7 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

v8-9 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

v10-12 But the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

v13-15 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

v16-18 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

v19-20 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Matt 2v1v1-2After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

v3-4 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

v5-6 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

v7-8 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

v9-11 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
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I love butternut squash. So much so that I just had my husband pick up 20 (yes 20) of them on this way home from work a few days ago.

(They are $1.39 at Trader Joe's for few more days and they last in the cupboard for 3 months.)

I'm either smart or a horder.

Today's soup recipe is one of my favorite meals to make this time of year. This recipe was passed on to me from a friend a few years ago and I'm not even sure where it came from originally but I promise it won't dissapoint... even if you aren't as into butternut squash as I am.

It is an easy soup to make ahead of time, freeze or take to a family in need of a meal.

For as long as I can remember my family has been having soup for dinner on Christmas Eve and this one will be added to the menu this year!

ENJOY!

Elizabeth

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

3 T olive oil

2 C chopped onions

2 T fresh Italian Parsley - chopped

2 t fresh sage - chopped

4 - 5 C butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 in cubes

1 1/2 t course sea salt

1 garlic clove - minced

5 C organic vegetable broth

TO MAKE:

Add onions, parsley and sage and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and coarse salt and saute until squash softens and onions are golden, about 6 minutes.

Add garlic, stir for 1 minute.

Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very soft, about 25 minutes.

Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender, allowing some texture to remain. Return soup to pot and thin with stock if desired.

Here is the secret: add a few dashes of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Only add a few dashes at a time and then taste. It heats up quickly!

Season with black pepper and salt if desired.

TO SERVE:

I like to serve it with some homemade croutons on top.

You can make them any way you like. I usually cut a whole wheat, crusty bread into cubes, drizzle, with olive oil and season with garlic powder and sea salt. Bake at 350F for about 20min or until golden brown and crispy.

ENJOY!

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

3 T olive oil

2 C chopped onions

2 T fresh Italian Parsley - chopped

2 t fresh sage - chopped

4 - 5 C butternut squash - 1/2 in cubes

1 1/2 t course sea salt

1 garlic clove - minced

5 C organic vegetable broth

TO MAKE:

Add onions, parsley and sage and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and coarse salt and saute until squash softens and onions are golden, about 6 minutes.

Add garlic, stir for 1 minute.

Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very soft, about 25 minutes.

Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender, allowing some texture to remain. Return soup to pot and thin with stock if desired.

Here is the secret: add a few dashes of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Only add a few dashes at a time and then taste. It heats up quickly!

Season with black pepper and salt if desired.

TO SERVE:

I like to serve it with some homemade croutons on top.

You can make them any way you like. I usually cut a whole wheat, crusty bread into cubes, drizzle, with olive oil and season with garlic powder and sea salt. Bake at 350F for about 20min or until golden brown and crispy.

ENJOY!

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OUR LOVE STORY: by ram and kellee hernandez

Ram: background

I like to tell people that I grew up in the Seattle area, but truth be told I grew up in Federal Way, Washington (a.k.a. the home of Wild Waves and Enchanted Village). My parents were divorced when I was 12 years old. My mom worked hard to support us and we always had a special bond.  My dad remarried shortly afterwards and I spent the next 5 years going back and forth from mom's house to dad's house, spending every-other-week at a different home. Sundays had gone from family days to days spent packing my suitcase. We did not go to church as a family, but my mom and I would go for an occasional Easter service or midnight mass on Christmas Eve. My stepmom started going to a Foursquare church in FW regularly and I was exposed to the church through her coming to faith in Jesus.

My outlet came in the form of athletics. More specifically, tennis. I spent my entire childhood playing tennis for hours a day and lived at the tennis club.  I played competitive tennis from 8 to 22 years old. Tennis brought me a singles and doubles high school championship, a college education, a career track, and most importantly, the girl I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.

Kellee: background

I was born and raised in Beaverton, Oregon and I still live in the same wonderful neighborhood I was brought up in. I had an extremely tight knit family who were all believers. My parents displayed an amazing example of a godly marriage and a true partnership. My brother, Jason, and I were best friends growing up and still remain very close to this day.  We were raised to live by faith and not by sight.  I always had faith in our Savior and was baptized in elementary school along with my brother. In high school and college I had fallen away from living like a believer.  I sought the approval of all the materials things this world had to offer.

Tennis was not only a large part of my life, but was in my family lineage. My dad played professional tennis and my mom was a very good player as well. At one point in time my grandpa built a grass tennis court for all of the family to practice on. Tennis required my focus and attention and always brought me back to my roots. After high school, I played tennis at University of Portland.

Ram: early encounters 

If it hasn't already been highlighted, tennis was and is a huge part of both our lives. From an early age we began playing competitive tennis. Jason, Kellee's brother, and I are the same age and competed against each other growing up from the age of 10 years old. Even though we lived in different states, we competed in the Pacific Northwest region. Kellee and I first met in Arizona at a team competition. Jason and I were on the same team and Kellee's dad was our coach.  I was 10 and Kellee was 8 years old at the time. We grew up seeing each other at tennis tournaments a few times a year up until high school, but it wasn't until college that our paths would really cross.

Ram: reunited 

After 2 years at Seattle U, I decided to transfer to the University of Portland. The summer before starting at UP, I was playing a tennis tournament at Tacoma Lawn and Tennis Club and spotted Kellee, all grown up, from afar. Kellee's mom recollects that I was hanging around their family more than usual at that tournament. Later during the fall, I saw Kellee at another tournament at the University of Oregon (Jason was a Duck!). Yes, I spotted Kellee once again!  I commented to one of the guys on the team that Kellee had caught my eye and I proceeded to get mocked the entire drive back from Eugene because she was "Menke's sister" (a.k.a. Jason's sister).

Kellee was at UO that fall, but a rumor was going around when I returned from Christmas break that she was transferring to UP to play tennis. I wasn't sure if these were just rumors or if the guys on the team were still giving me a hard time. I was driving home from the tennis center shortly after coming back from the break and there in the parking lot was Kellee, walking back to her dorm room carrying her Babalot tennis bag. I narrowly missed hitting a parked car as I passed by!  I immediately became the #1 fan of the girls’ tennis team and was doing my "homework" while watching their home matches. Kellee's parents were at the matches and noticed I was there a lot.  Her dad says that I was "shopping" for my significant other at those matches.

Kellee: the beginning 

For my 19th birthday on January 19, 2002, Ram asked me out on a date and gave me tickets to a Jack Johnson concert. I was excited!  Ram was like no guy I had ever dated. He actually called me on the phone and genuinely cared about me. In fact, he started to call so often that I got scared and asked him to give me a little space. I was used to being very independent and this made me panic a bit.  Well, Ram being the kind man that he is did just what I asked and stopped calling! Oh he knew what he was doing because sure enough I was begging him to call me again. I knew Ram was the one for me and was like no other guy.

Going into my sophomore year of college I was living with three girls from my tennis team and it was a very bad situation. I was hazed, verbally abused, bullied, and pushed to do things I was not comfortable with. I turned to Ram as my shelter, he basically lived with me at my house because I was fearful of being alone. I developed severe anxiety and moments of depression which lead me to quit the tennis team, transfer to Portland State, and move back home. In February of that year, Ram and I had dinner with my parents and we spoke to them about our future plans together.  They told Ram they loved him, but did not agree with our living together.  We assured them of our intentions.  By this time Ram truly was part of the family.  Ram was about to graduate, had no money, lots of school debt and ended up moving in with me at my parents' house. Now this was not an ideal situation for my parents. They were trying to support me and Ram, but clearly disagreed with our living situation. I also felt God pulling at my heart many times but felt like I had already sinned. How could I change my situation and not lose the man I loved?

Kellee: surprise! 

Two months after moving home, I was driving to PSU one morning and suddenly felt horribly ill. I got home having no clue what it could be and suddenly my heart sunk deep into the pit of my stomach. I was pregnant! I was so ashamed of myself and the sin I was living in. What is Ram going to say?  My parents? My friends? That day when I picked Ram up from work I told him everything. We agreed we needed to get married, and fast!  I was so thankful that I could once again run to Ram for shelter. Now we had to tell our parents. My dad got the news first because my mom was on a business trip. My poor dad. Both of my parents were amazing and showered us with unconditional love, never judging or reprimanding us. Everyone was in full support of the marriage. We looked at the calendar for dates and the only day that worked was a Wednesday night…in 13 days!

Ram: salvation 

Now as you can imagine, finding a pastor to marry us was quite the challenge. We had done no marriage counseling, were living in sin and we wanted to get married in 13 days!  Not exactly a recipe for marriage. However, Kellee and I knew that we were meant for each other and our intention was to eventually get married, so we searched tirelessly until we found someone. We met with our pastor three times to take a crash course in marriage counseling and by the end of our first session, I confessed with my lips that Jesus was the Lord and Savior of my life. Somehow in the whirlwind of school, work, the pregnancy, and trying to get married in 13 days, it all came together and made sense to me. That this was all happening for a reason, that Kellee and I were knowingly living in sin, that God's plan trumped all of my plans and was far bigger than what I could fathom. Satan tried to spoil our plans for marriage a few times before the big day and one of those attempts was that our pastor had a stroke four days before the wedding. Luckily the lead pastor at the church was able to step in. A few days later we confessed before God that we would love each other in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Kellee: getting married 

The rehearsal dinner was finally here! Family from near and far gathered for a beautiful barbecue at the home of family friends.  Right before heading to the barbecue I started having horrible stomach cramps. Scared to death, I had no clue what this meant, but I continued to cramp and bleed while trying to pull myself together to face our family and friends. I think I spent the majority of the night scared and crying in the bathroom trying to conceptualize what this could mean. The next morning I woke up and it was much worse, more cramping and bleeding. My extended family was at the house along with some of the bridal party making flower arrangements for the wedding as my mom and I raced to the doctor's office. Remember, I'm 20 years old and this is on my wedding day. The doctor told me just what I feared, I was having a miscarriage and that it would happen very soon. With my mom holding my hand, silent tears streamed down our cheeks and many prayers were said.  As we left the office to head home I was literally balling and so sad for the loss and fearful that Ram would not want to marry me anymore!  Calling Ram on the way home to tell him what had happened and that we had lost our baby filled me with such dread.  The first response Ram had was, "I can't wait to marry you today!"  Wow, I love this man!

We went on to embrace a day of two lives becoming one with nearly 200 family and friends by our side - on a Wednesday night mind you. The wedding was one of beauty, grace and unconditional love.  I ended up miscarrying that night in our honeymoon suite. It was so hard to grasp all that had happened to us in thirteen days, but not once did I question God's intentions. It was very clear that we were living in sin and needed to make things right with our Father. I'm so thankful that we love a God that would cover my sin with grace and redeem my husband through salvation! What an amazing God we serve!

Kellee: nine years later 

Here we are almost nine years later, seeing God's miracles every day in our lives. Ram is a CPA and works in finance at Novellus Systems. I am blessed to be able to pour into our two amazing boys (Luka 5 and Tristan 4) and I work as an Psal on the side from home. Ram and I continue to love life and laugh together, just as we did when we started dating ten years ago, but have now put Jesus at the front of our marriage. We are striving to live out each day placing our trust in the Lord and just maybe through our story, we can show God's glory to others as we continue to grow in the Lord.

God's plan for us has not been without challenges and tests. Luka was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old.  We are so thankful for our trust in the Lord's plan. We have never asked, “Why us or why Luka?” We know that God never gives us more than we can handle. Luka's journey has made us more patient, kind, and understanding as parents. We've continued to grow closer to Him through it all!

Jesus, you could have written our story on any other day, but truly Your power is perfected in our weakness. Thank you Lord for saving us from our sin and covering us with your grace. We love you!

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:4-6