Beauty Beyond Bones: Christmas Negativity or Nativity

Caralyn at Beauty Beyond Bones talks about bringing the nativity home this Christmas. While government decree forced Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem to be registered at a time that was not very convenient, you may forced to not travel by government decree or not to meet with friends and family. Even if not forced, you may have decided for the safety of your family to simply limit interactions with people whom you feel may be a health risk, leading to a lonelier holiday season. Caralyn reminds us that the first Christmas was a small gathering of parents and child, but that didn’t make it sad or lonely. It was a joy for the world.

Christmas Negativity or Nativity

Is it just me, or is it not quite as “Christmassy” as it typically is, this time of year?

I mean — it just feels like, the lights aren’t as twinkly, the Christmas music — if it’s even playing — seems a little flat, the ice skating rinks in New York City are empty — as are the stores (and restaurants), and it’s as though we’re all collectively holding our breath to see if — like Thanksgiving — Christmas is even going to “happen” this year.

And, to be honest, I’ve really let the “up-in-the-air-ness” of it all get to me. Here it is, it’s December 10 and I have purchased exactly two Christmas presents. And, the window of “delivery eligibility” for online orders is rapidly diminishing, so unless I want to risk it all to physically go into a store for a stinkin stocking stuffer, then I better get my act together, or else get on board with the idea of giving out homemade back rub coupons this year.

I don’t think I’m alone in this, though. COVID has really given this holiday season the “1-2-punch.” And we’re all just hanging on by a thread…much like the virtual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

I mean — I saw at Hudson Yards they were offering a “virtual visit with Santa.” Now, if that’s not just the saddest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is.

And I’ve really been trying to get in the spirit. If you follow me on Instagram, (which I would really appreciate if you did, I’m @beauty.beyond.bones)…I’ve been trying to post a bunch of Christmassy stories, complete with folksy/indie Christmas music and a romantic filter that would make even Nicholas Sparks proud. So, I’m trying. It even flurried yesterday…and even though it hit when I was out on my run (in shorts), I tried to welcome it with the joyful wonder of that “first snow,” despite the near hypothermia that occurred as a result.

So, suffice it to say, despite my best efforts, my recent outlook has been a wee bit Grinchy.

But this morning, as I was looking out the window at the blustery 31 degree morning, I had a bit of a Christmas epiphany, you could say.

I started thinking about the manger. I remembered how Mary and Joseph kept being turned away from inn after inn, and as a last resort, they made due with a stable, literally surrounded by farm animals: cattle, ox, sheep, donkeys.

Image: S. Dewey

Sounds kinda like a 2020 experience, am I right?

But that very first Christmas, all they had were each other, and the Christ child.

And that’s when it hit me.

That is our exact situation, right here in 2020, too.

This Christmas, we are being brought back to the manger. Not just in our mind, or on the creche on the mantle. No, we’re actually physically being brought back to that quiet, solemn night, alone with just family and Christ.

This year, all the materialistic, clamoring noise that usually surrounds Christmas has been stripped away. Those distractions that compete for our attention, and divert our focus away from the true miracle of Christmas have all but dissolved, leaving us with no excuse, but to pull up a bail of hay and park ourselves next to Baby Jesus in the manger.

I was reminded, this morning, that instead of feeling melancholy or wistful for the normal “holiday rush,” with the Christmas parties, and battling for parking spots at the mall, cookie baking, and going one million miles per second, it seems, I should cherish the fact that this Christmas, I can really return to the Why.

Return to the “Reason for the Season” — which, believe me, I cringed just as hard typing that, as you did reading it.

But it’s true. It’s an eye-roll-inducing cliche for a reason: it’s true.

Christmas isn’t about the decorations. It isn’t about having 100 gifts under the tree, with the perfect gift wrap, and the Christmas cards with the color-coordinated matching family outfits, or the kids’ school chorus concerts…those are all nice and beautiful traditions. But when it comes right down to it, it’s about Jesus, coming to earth as a child, in the most humble of circumstances, all because He loves you and me enough to be born to die.

And what a truly unique and glorious opportunity we’ve been given — in the pandemic holiday season of 2020 — that we can spend this Christmas differently than we ever have – and probably ever will – ever again: in our own little families, with Jesus.

We’ll have to have virtual church, and therefore, have to purposefully and intentionally make time for Jesus, and invite Him into our homes, and we’ll spend Christmas in an intimate, incredibly special – and hopefully meaningful – time.

I honestly, think it’s really beautiful.

That first Christmas, all there was was Jesus, and the love between a very small, and very holy family.

This Christmas, the old is new again. And here we are today, in that same, manger-shaped boat.

May we all embrace our seemingly desolate present, as the opportunity for our own living nativity, as we navigate these uncertain next couple of weeks, before we welcome Baby Jesus at Christmas, with just our own little family, too.

Beauty Beyond Bones: Where Is God?

In Where Is God? at Beauty Beyond Bones a young New Yorker wonders if lettings us sleep in the bed we made.

When I first moved to New York City some ten years ago, whenever I was feeling lost or alone, I would always go take a walk by the river. And as the gentle breeze would kiss my cheek, I would always envision that as a touch from God, giving me comfort and guidance that everything is going to be okay.

Fast forward to yesterday. Same river. Same girl, only slightly older, seeking guidance, only this time – the wind was gale force gusting the entire time. To the point that my hat flew off four different times.

This memory didn’t hit me until I was nearly home, feeling absolutely exhausted from battling the wind for an hour. And that’s when I realized: if God was giving me a kiss on the cheek when I felt lonely back then, what is He trying to communicate now, with His incessant hurricane gusts?

And that’s when I got to thinking about the current state of this world. For the past seven months now, it’s as though the entire world has been in a free fall. I mean, think about it. Starting with Australia’s wild fires; to the global pandemic; we been prohibited to go to church; we’ve lost jobs, education opportunities and loved ones; and now a horrific hurricane season; wild fires ravaging California, and our country is politically tearing itself apart at the seams with riots, violence, and unrest.

Taking an inventory is a sobering exercise that makes me question: where is God?

Really. Where is He in all of this? Hasn’t He heard the cries of His children? Can’t He see our suffering? Are our prayers falling on deaf ears?

Later last night, a certain gentleman and I were driving through the streets of Manhattan. And all throughout the city, the NYPD had baracades up, and swaths of cop vans and patrol units stationed at various landmarks: The Met, Times Square, Trump Tower, etc – all in preparation for the outcry of protesters and potential rioters in response to the news from the tragic and heartbreaking Breonna Taylor case.

It felt like a scene out of the apocalypse. Deserted streets, except for flashing cop lights. Meanwhile, my Citizen crime app pinging, notifying us of large groups of protestors blocking the Manhattan Bridge, and overtaking Washington Square Park, and elsewhere.

I thought, is God withdrawing Himself from us?

His children are hurting, and where is He?

I got home and turned to the Bible. Because – not that I was feeling all end-times-y/Revelation now, or anything – but I was curious as to other times when God hid His face from His children.

And what I found shook me to my core. Jeremiah 11:14 states: “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.”

You see, Israel had fallen into rampant paganism, idolatry, and polytheism, and so as a result, God was allowing them to experience life with their false idols, and without Him. Zechariah 7:13 – “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear.”

Could it be that we are the modern day Israel? Has our society’s collective dismissal of God finally caught up with us?

We have created idols in our own time, and we’re seeing it play out to the n’th degree. Politics has become a religion for so many – to the point where we’re raising up Ruth Bader Ginsberg to deity-status. We’ve replaced religious morals and ideals with party platforms, and agendas that are a far cry from biblically influenced.

We’ve made idols of our sexual identity and our gender expression, and worship material possessions, professional athletes and celebrities. We’ve replaced striving to be right with God, with virtue signaling to be right in the eyes of others.

Why is it more socially acceptable to recite the lyrics to “WAP,” than it is to pray in public, or say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance?

Could it be that God is allowing us to sleep in the bed we’ve made for ourselves?

Could it be that God is allowing His absence to be acutely felt – not just spiritually – but now, thanks to COVID, even physically – so that we may come to learn to actually appreciate it?

I’m asking, because I genuinely desire to know. It feels as though my prayers are a broken record, and each day brings with it a new set of issues and quandaries.

And I’d like to know what you think: what do you make of the current state of the world? Are we the modern day Israel?

Is God withdrawing? Are we needing repentance? Do people really even care, let alone notice?

To close, I want to just offer a prayer – a pleading for God’s presence to be felt. Perhaps, like the hurricane gusts of wind I felt yesterday at the river, God is screaming out to us, and yet we have been refusing to hear? And if that’s the case, I pray our ears be opened and our hearts made receptive to the not-so-subtle whisper of our Father.

I pray for peace in this nation. I pray for healing of the broken, hurting hearts, frustrated with current realities and injustices. And I pray for the leaders of this nation, that they would seek to unite the people of this great nation, and respect all life – from conception to natural death.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

Beauty Beyond Bones: Corona & the Value of Life

Caralyn, a young, Christian woman trying to make her way in the big city, at Beauty Beyond Bones has a few words about Corona and the Value of Life.

Yesterday I had 6 Skype dates with my friends, and let me tell you — we were all a little loopy. I think I got an abdominal workout from all the laughter. Most of which, was at my embarrassing expense. 🙂

I’ll tell you what. You think you’ve got some idiosyncrasies? Try being cooped up in a 500 sq. foot studio apartment for a week straight, and then let me know!

Things be getting crazy. And by things, I mean…me.

OK — that’s not the purpose of this post, just a little light humor to brighten our cabin fever 🙂 ((And heads up, I’m posting a lot more on Instagram, so please join me for my crazy candid content. — #BananaGate, anyone?))

SO – One of the most interesting things I’ve watched unfold during this Coronavirus hysteria, is that, whether people fully realize it or not, all of these drastic measures, with the social distancing, and the travel bans, and the working from home…these are all measures to protect life. For the first time ever, we’re all on team “prolife!”

We, as a country – and as a global community – are completely upending our lives, tanking our economy, and flirting with the line of sanity, because we’re protecting the elderly and most vulnerable people. It communicates our recognition of the value for human life. And I’ve got to say, as a prolife millennial — this beautiful teamwork and unity is not lost on me.

I went to the grocery store yesterday (it’s basically the only errand you’re “allowed” to run during these quarantined times), and I, of course was nervous about having to be at a public space. As a young woman with an autoimmune disease, I am hyper vigilant about not contracting Corona. So my MO is: head down – get in, get out, touch nothing, speak to no one, then sanitize until the cows come home.

So, you can imagine how, phobic-me was internally freaking out when this darling 72 year old woman struck up a lengthy conversation with me in the avocado aisle of our natural food store.

I made eye contact and gave a little smile at her, which proceeded to launch her into a full, blown monologue — meanwhile I’m just wringing my hands, thinking, “Please just let me get me out of this germ hotbed” and praying to God that this sweet old woman wasn’t contracting COVID19 from the handlebar of her shopping cart.

But in that moment, as I found myself growing irritated, the Holy Spirit moved in my heart, and gave me a spirit of compassion for this woman. And so I actually began listening to what she was saying.

She lived alone. She was 72. And she was saying that she wasn’t worried, because she keeps herself so healthy by dancing. She said she dances the merengue every afternoon in her apartment — and she even whipped out a couple moves right there in the produce section.

And it was at this moment, sharing in this human connection and moment of joy with this older woman — laughing together and smiling, albeit at a “socially distant” 6 feet apart from one another — that I realized that this precious woman was just in need of some love and warmth, during a time where fear and uncertainty are running rampant at an exponential level.

This gentle, kind and eccentric woman could have been my grandmother. And she’s out here – alone – fending for herself against a virus that is being hawked as the “elderly killer.”

As we went our separate ways, I thought to myself: This is who you’re protecting.

She is who we’re protecting. She is why we’re keeping social distance and staying inside.

It is her life – her value – that has the world taking such dramatic efforts. And realizing that, it brought a smile to my face.

Because as a defender of the unborn, I believe that all life – from conception to natural death – has an innate, inherent value that cannot be stripped away or commoditized, or denied.

One of the most common arguments that pro-abortion people make is that by having the baby, it will detrimentally inconvenience the mother.

But here we are, as not just a nation — but an entire global population — “detrimentally inconveniencing” our livelihoods, our relationships, our economies, our physical and mental health, our leisure time, our lives – in order to protect and defend the lives of the most vulnerable.

I just pray that people realize that connection. And that we reevaluate our judgments on how we protect and defend the most vulnerable and truly voiceless population in the womb. According to the WHO, abortion was the leading cause of death in the world in 2019 — with roughly 125,000 deaths per day.

Can you imagine the outcry and the lengths we’d take to stop that, if, as a society, we cared and recognized the value, dignity, and sanctity of life in those little babies?

The world has — rightfully — come to a screeching halt, for — as of publication — 10,025 deaths.

Each one of those precious lives matters. It’s someone’s mother, father, sister, friend, spouse.

So too, do the lives of those babies. All 42 million of them that died in 2019 alone.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay positive. Stay sane. And next time you eat an avocado, please think of our sweet 72 year old friend, busting out the merengue moves in an NYC grocery store.

I love you all.


Beauty Beyond Bones: What If We Were as Fervent About the Rest of Life as COVID19?

Caralyn at Beauty Beyond Bones shares a few thoughts on the coronavirus frenzy and how wonderful it would it would be if people attacked the rest of their lives with the same fervor – Coronavirus or Apocalypse?

Somebody call Will Smith because thanks to the Coronavirus, it’s like a scene from an apocalyptic blockbuster out here in these streets.

Honestly – New York City is turning into a chaotic nightmare.

People are walking around in masks, I can’t tell you the number of mass emails I’ve gotten instructing me to wash my hands (you’re breaking some new ground there, Copernicus), and everyone on the subway is actively sizing people up, trying to determine if they’re riding with Patient Zero.

And apparently, for good reason. You know it’s bad when my father — King of not-freaking out/calm-cool-&-collected/never-over-reacter — sends me a Twitter thread about the potential catastrophic impact COVID-19 could have if there’s an actual outbreak.

Sometimes, I think there’s more fear-mongering than facts circulating in the media around things like this, but respecting my dad’s concern…I caved and heeded his advice.

I went to 4 different Walgreens yesterday to buy my doomsday kit: cleaning supplies, toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, etc. – and I kid you not — all four stores were completely sold out of – not only cleaning products – but also hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap!! We’re talking empty shelves!

Image: ABC

And – thanks to the law of supply and demand – I ended up paying a whopping $24 on Amazon for ONE canister of Lysol disinfectant wipes.

If I wasn’t coughing before, I certainly did after that price tag.

The country is freaking out.

And the fervor with which people are preparing for a potential doomsday is unprecedented. It’s like Y2K all over again. People are stock piling toilet paper and paper face masks. I met a guy at a party last night who was side-hustling those blue paper masks for $25 bucks a pop!!

It’s a frenzy. And it’s damn impressive, to be honest.

And, sitting back, watching this whole thing unfold, I couldn’t help but think to myself — what would happen if we were attack other areas of our lives with this same intensity?

People are snatching up anything “antibacterial” like their life depended on it. Bleach? Lay it on me. Antimicrobial? Here, take my first born.

There is a desperation. A determination. A devotion. Granted, it’s driven by self-interest.

But what would happen, if we were to, say, attack recovery with that same life-or-death intensity?

How would it be if we were to pursue our relationship with God with that same urgency? To save our souls, with the same tanacity as fighting to save our lives?

Or what if we were to take that frenzied energy and put it towards helping other people, loving our friends, pursuing goals and dreams, working to save the environment – or the unborn?

There’s so much complacency these days – so much luke-warmness that, quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see that, as a society, we have it in us to actually care about something. That we can set aside our differences and rally together to defeat a collective threat.

Pity, that it took the coronavirus to bring that out of us.

I pray that this corona virus be contained. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening overseas, and to hear the death toll continues to rise.

I hope that with the arrival of spring, we can kick this virus, and move forward to days where the threat of a hand sanitizer barter system isn’t on the brink of reality.

Because in addition to ruthlessness in the CVS aisles, COVID-19 has also brought out the absolute worst in people: Despicable acts racism and overt prejudice against our brothers and sisters from China are sadly a reality, and people are letting fear cloud their judgement and influence their words and actions.

Image: Forbes

It’s gross and completely unacceptable.

So, I think we all need to take a collective deep breath. Act with common sense — yes, wash our hands — Act with prudence when it comes to staying healthy.

But try to channel this panicked energy into positive intensity towards things that also matter.

Starting with kindness. How about that.

BBB: Spiritual Warfare

Caralyn over on Beauty Beyond Bones once again has good words to take to heart, discussing spirtual warfare in her own life – Exposing Spiritual Warfare. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.

…So why, the heck, am I listening to these lies that are filling my head that are straight from the pit of hell?

Why? Because I am human, living in a fallen world, and try as some people may to convince you otherwise, Satan is real.


I don’t think that I am alone in my experience this past week. I think that all of us, at one time or another, have felt bogged down by self doubt or discouragement, or inadequacy, or loneliness. I think those are universal obstacles. I just think that most people are afraid to talk about it.

But I also think that those are the exact cracks in our foundation that the devil likes to worm into, in order to gain a foothold in our lives.

A surprising paradox in all of this, is that you’d think that when you’re “down and out,” you’d be the most vulnerable to spiritual attacks. But I think the opposite is true. I think that when we have a momentum going; when we’re on fire for the Lord and eagerly chasing after His plan for our lives, that is when Satan is going to do everything in his power to throw as many road blocks in your way as possible. That he’ll bring along seven friends to trip you up and shove you off course. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

Which is why we must heed the advice of Ephesians 6: 10-18…and put on the armor of God, most especially when we feel we don’t need to.

I was reading over that passage this afternoon, and I realized, for the first time, a very important thing.

Everything in that armor: — the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet in the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation — those are all defensive articles. They are all passive, shields, used to defend oneself against an attack.

Except for one: The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The sword of the Spirit.


That is the only thing that was an offensive tool. An attack. A proactive tool.

And that’s when I realized: we do not have to do the fightingThe Spirit will do it for us. 

And what a freakin’ relief that was. I don’t have to rely on my own strength to resist the spiritual attacks from the evil one. The Spirit will do that for me. I just need to ask. I need to just take up that Sword, and the Spirit will fight for me.

Yes, I need to take all the defensive actions possible – with faith, with the gospel, with truth — but the fighting is left up to the Spirit.

That kind of puts it in a new perspective, doesn’t it?