Tag Archives: Christmas

Dream of Me

Sleeping baby girlDoes he dream? His eyelids flutter, and the faintest smile settles in
Just a moment and is gone again, with a sigh
My finger is a snug prize in his delicate hand
He falls deeper into sleep and deeper into my cradling arm
Quiet breath
I rock and sing
I am lulled and drowsy, yet transfixed on his face

Is he flying home in his mind? Dancing through his cosmic playground?
Is he calling the stars out by name?1-stars-in-sky
What extraordinary things does he imagine?
Is any of this real? Is he really here in my arms?
How sublime and surreal!
He stepped into time and willed to be contained
In mortal flesh, on fleeting soil
My feet sink into the earth beneath me
Yet one glance at his face and I am raised to Heaven

mary holding JesusNo, I am the one who dreams
And finds my dream is fulfilled
Heaven is mine to hold
I can scarcely stop my heart from pounding
My little Holy One
My tiny, Mighty God
How I adore You!

We are each the other’s child
I am Yours
You own me completely
And now You are mine
I lavish a mother’s kisses on the tender face of GodMary kissing Jesus
Who could imagine such a thing?

My child, my King, my Love
My heart and soul
Tonight I hum a gentle lullaby
You sleep, and I stare in awe
Dream of me
Your mother, Your child
Dream of me


© 2009 Jennifer Hartline

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Uncategorized



I Heard the Bells

BellsFrom Wikipedia:

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a Christmas carol based on the 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

During the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son Charles Appleton Longfellow joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father’s blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer,” he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good”.[2] Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded[3] in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia) during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write “Christmas Bells”.


I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

alexander_nevski_cathedral_bellsGuadalupe cathedral

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Advent Well Spent

celtic wreathA couple of years ago I was delighted to be introduced to a new Advent tradition.  The trouble is, I’m not really sure what to call it.  It’s not really a game, but it’s an activity the whole family does together.  Yet it’s very personal and prayerful as well.  It’s a group as well as an individual thing.

I first heard about it on another Catholic blog, and then my spiritual director surprised me by telling me that in Europe, monasteries and convents all over used to practice this tradition, and in his order they still do every year.  Since some religious houses have many people participating, his order’s version included many more “characters”.  But my family uses the pared-down version which I’ll post below.  (If you’d like the lengthier version, just ask and I’ll send it to you.)

It’s become my favorite Advent tradition, and honestly, I try to continue “being” my character all year long because it’s something I can really wrap my head and my heart around.  It’s small, but profound and fruitful.

So it works like this:  Print the following list of Advent/Christmas characters and every member of the family draws one.  You trust that the one you draw is the one God wants you to have, and you spend Advent trying to practice the virtues that character best demonstrates.  Tell the other family members who you drew, and you can gently encourage each other in this goal.  But make it a matter of private prayer, and it’ll make Advent time well-spent.


Virtues: Meekness, humility, obedience, purity. Trust in God’s plan, surrender to His will. She cradles her Child in her arms, in quiet and joyful awe.

Virtues: Humility, leadership and trust in God. Chastity and patience. Faithfully guards Mary and the Divine Child.

Christmas Star
Virtues: Steadfastness. Provide a steady light to guide weary pilgrims. A source of guidance and illumination. Be clear and bright in the darkened world.

Virtues: Proclaims the “tidings of great joy.” Always ready to tell the world about the Christ Child. A source of inspiration. Always obedient to the will of God.

Virtues: Long-suffering  humility, gentleness. Patiently bears all burdens. He looks silently, in amazement. Be amazed for all those who are no longer amazed. Be reverent to the Lord!

Virtues: Hard work, diligence, patience and sacrifice. He offers the strength and warmth of his body to comfort the Child.

Virtues: Leadership, joy. Listens to God. Kindness to the lambs. Goodness, tenderness, watchful care. Lays down his life for the sheep.

Virtues: Docility, innocence, obedience and trust. Stop wanting to be great! He loves all that is little so much!

A little field mouse
Virtues: persistence, hard work, humility, awe
Always in such a hurry, scurrying about! But once the little mouse slips inside the stable and sees the Child, everything else becomes insignificant. Go to HIM often!

Virtues: Love, gentleness, warmth, steadiness
It was the Divine Child’s first resting place on earth, and how He longs to find a warm manger – full of love – in your heart!

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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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My Essential Christmas Movie and Music List

There are certain songs and movies I simply must have during Christmas.  First, the movies.  It just ain’t Christmas unless I see all of these.

In random order:

A Christmas Carol:  I rather like the George C. Scott version.  Don’t tell my mother.


White Christmas:  This one is an absolute must.  Every year.  And yes, I have the “Sisters” song memorized.  But I can also belt out “We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go/ Long as he wants to go opposite to the foe…”   I wait all year to watch this movie. It just makes me happy and sappy.


The Polar Express:  Yeah, this one makes me happy, too.  Makes me happy like a little kid, with that kind of wide-eyed wonder and excitement.  “Here we only got one rule/Never, ever let it cool!/Keep it cooking in the pot/ Then you got, hot chocolate!”  And that bell from Santa’s sleigh, oh, the marketing folks behind that movie were complete idiots for not selling that bell. Just the bell, all by itself, or maybe in a package with the golden ticket.  I would have bought it in a heartbeat.


The Christmas Box:  Another absolute must for me.  I cry every single time I see it.  “I understand now, Mary.  The first gift of Christmas… it was a Child.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”  This is another movie I wait all year for, and I can’t believe it’s not available on DVD.  I want to own this movie!  (The prequel, Timepiece, is also wonderful.)


Fallen Angel:  I like Gary Sinise.  He’s a good guy, a good actor, and he supports our troops.  That makes him first-rate in my book.  And this is great story of redemption, second chances, and the healing power of love.


Christmas Child:  Based on Max Lucado’s story, The Christmas Cross.  I have the book and the movie.  Again, a great story of redemption, second and third chances, and the healing power of love.  A must-see.




Now the tunes.  The tunes are very important to me.  They set the mood, and feed my spirit.

Last year I discovered Selah’s Rose of Bethlehem, and it immediately became one of my most favorite songs.  I mean, WOW… so moving, so beautiful, so profound.  I absolutely love this song.

I love Audrey Assad’s Winter Snow.  Thoughtful, creative, and beautiful.

Michael W. Smith’s album, It’s a Wonderful Christmas, is practically my soundtrack for Christmas.  I love this album.


I love the lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, though I don’t always like the way it’s sung.  Seems to have different melodies and variations.  Some I like, some I don’t.  I have a recording of a children’s choir singing it mingled with Dona Nobis Pacem, and it’s beautiful.

I love “O Holy Night” when it’s done well by a great choir and soloist, without any of the vocal gymnastics that is so common among singers today.  Just give it to me straight and strong, please.  With reverence.  It’s a HOLY night.

The Little Drummer Boy is another favorite of mine.  Talk about theology in a children’s song… it makes me cry every time.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a favorite now.  Didn’t used to be when I was a kid.  But now I get it — I appreciate the depth of the lyrics and the hope they cry for.  Phillips, Craig and Dean does a nice job on their Christmas album, Repeat the Sounding Joy.  

I love Amy Grant’s Welcome to Our World.  Love, love, love it.  Her cover of Agnus Dei is pretty awesome, too.


So what are your Christmas “musts”?


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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized



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