Category 1

Category 2

Category 3

Category 4

Category 5

Category 6

Day 23 of 28: Take it Back to the Cradle



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







Start Tracking Your Habits Today

Download my free Habit Tracker!


Start Powering Down Intentionally.

Download my free Unplugging Tracker!

Take it Back to the Cradle


The purpose of the baby in the stable was freedom.

He came to set us free.

There’s this hymn we sing this time of year that I love. It rolls off the tongue as you sing it, but if you step back to examine the words, you start to see the bigger story unfolding:

O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

This hymn lays down the context of what happened when news of the Messiah first broke out into the world. The hymn says, in plain terms, “Come be with us, God. Pay the ransom for Israel, who is stuck in exile. We need you. We need your freedom.”

I wish we had several weeks to dig into these exact words, but here’s what you need to know. These words are inspired by the events of the Old Testament when God sent His people Israel into exile as a punishment because they could not stop picking other gods over Him. They stayed in that exile for 70 years. And so the hope of one who could come and clear the slate, become the most genuine form of freedom they’d ever known? That was a big, beautiful deal.

Jesus is the representation of true freedom.

I once heard author Shannan Martin speak so poignantly about this idea of freedom. She talked about how she and her family did an inventory of their holiday season and asked themselves why they do what they do around this time of year. They came up empty on many things– a long list of what became obligations for other people. She realized so much of the season culminated and climaxed on Christmas morning with the opening of presents.

She wanted to change things.

So she sat down with her family and asked them about their favorite parts of the holiday season. The common thread coming from her kids’ mouths was feelings: I feel cozy. I feel loved. I feel surrounded.

They associated their favorite things with feelings.

They decided, as a family, to cultivate those feelings and chase after them alone. They decided to inject more of those feelings into the season to enjoy it.

Less chaos. More nights at home.

Less hubbub. More coziness.

Fewer events. More gatherings of people they love.

Less materialism. More quality time.

She said that was part of the freedom of Jesus– of God with us– that we would be free to restructure the holiday season and focus on the stuff that truly matters. To eliminate the excess to get back to the good stuff.

Her message is so liberating to me. It has made me realize I am not a captive to traditions or “how we’ve always done it.” I have the power and freedom to set up the holiday season how I want it to be, to focus the energies of my family around the things that matter most.

Gosh, this is so liberating.

As for us– Lane, Novi, and me– we make more room for nights spent by the tree watching cheesy Hallmark movies. We make more time for game nights with friends, sipping eggnog and ciders. We clear space for evenings at the dining room table doing a 500-piece puzzle as a Christmas vinyl crackles in the background. We make room for daily Advent. We intentionally place things on the calendar that matter to us,  chances to love our people well.

And if it isn’t working? If we feel no peace or freedom amid our holiday season, we have permission to pivot and change things to make room for more abundance. More joy. More peace.

I believe this mirrors the heart of Jesus– that we would not live lives fraught with anxiety but would access the freedom set before us.

This season, I am stepping into the freedom of not being governed by a long and winding to-do list.

I am choosing to claim peace, rest, and restoration and find my freedom in saying “no” to the things that don’t add joy this season.

Just in case someone hasn’t told you yet: you are free to take this holiday back to the bones of what matters most– back to the baby in Bethlehem.


Galatians 5:1

Steal This Prayer

Dear God, you orchestrated the bones of this story. But you are not a God who produces chaos or busyness. Empower me to take back this holiday and ground it in you. Thank you for this freedom to rewrite the story for my family and me.

I Love Hearing from You!

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Fiona says:

    Please approve my comment….

    My boyfriend is back after he broke up with me 3 months ago ____

    Thanks to this relationship doctor for restoring my relationship,

    He made everythings possible…

    I am the happiest lady on earth,

    Stop Infidelity.

    Stop Cheating.

    Stop Betrayal.

    Stop Mistrust.

    Stop Divorce.

    Stop Poor communication.

    Stop Long-distance woes.

    Stop No emotional connection.

    Stop Lover from breaking-up

    Stop Toxic or abusive behavior.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


READ          LATEST



In the Mood For...

Lifestyle Content

Writing Tips

A Faith Boost

Mental Health



The Unplugged Hours

What if you could make a small yet intentional shift away from the constant screens? What if you could learn to check back in with yourself and show up better to your daily life?

Get The Guide

For the One Who
Wants to Start Writing.

My favorite writing resources, tools I use in my own practice, and tips for creating a writing process— all rolled into one PDF.

I'd love to drop some consistent encouragement, favorite things, and the latest essays in your inbox.

Let's Be Friends.

follow @hannahbrencher

If you're into encouraging pep talks, hope-filled devotionals, tips for building better routines, the occasional JonBenet Ramsey deep-dive + some solid book recs-- you've arrived at your destination.

Follow along →

My weekly newsletter →

I love pinning things →