Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review - A Walk One Winter Night by Al Andrews

November 13, 2013:  The radio stations were already beginning to play Christmas music.  Normally I’d be excited about this, clapping my hands and saying gleefully, “Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!” as my husband would roll his eyes in bemusement.  Our holiday CD collection is large, and by hubby’s decree we aren’t allowed to break out those tunes until after Thanksgiving.  The same goes for the decorations.  But I usually have my own time of “sneaking” the yuletide tunes in private, so as to not annoy the man.  I understand his reticence in this area—we can’t keep backing up Christmas until it starts rolling in the early fall, can we?  Limits must be set!  So in that sense, I agree.  And yet, I always welcomed the arrival of the season, even if it was a wee bit early.

Holidays 2013 came especially early this year.  With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, retailers are trying to make up for those lost hours of revenue generation.  I saw Christmas materials going up in the stores well before Halloween. So when the holiday tunes began to creep into radio programming, of course my husband had to comment, as he does almost every year.  And almost every year I joyfully welcome it, despite the early date.

Something was different a few weeks ago.  After my husband’s annual comment about the early arrival of Christmas, I looked to him, paused, and said, “I’m not ready.”

“You’re not ready?!?”

“No—shockingly enough.  I’m not ready.”

For the first time, a sense of dread and anxiety had filled my heart in regard to the season.  Somehow, this year’s festivities had become linked with stress, busy schedules and cranky, unfulfilled children.  To be honest, I wanted it to be over before it had even begun.  And this surprised me.  The Christmas season has always been such a magical time of the year for me. But somehow, this year it just…wasn’t. 

Not long after that, we’d had a stressful day in our household.  I went to bed feeling tired and defeated about a number of things.  Christmas?  I didn’t have the energy to even contemplate it. Cynicism had begun to creep in.  It honestly didn’t feel very real in my heart. And that made me sad. It really shouldn’t be that way.

I didn’t have much energy to read much that evening, but I did pick up the short book A Walk One Winter Night by Al Andrews.  I read it in just a few minutes, and in that brief time, Mr. Andrews helped to realign my thinking.  With simple full-page drawings and insightful prose, I was reminded of the wonder of the season.  The reality of it.  Going beyond just the dressings, posed nativity scenes and seemingly unrelatable  historical figures.  Andrews speaks in the first person, describing his cluttered mind and stress.  His irritation and annoyance with a lot of it echoed what I’d been feeling.

While A Walk One Winter Night is a simple book, the kind you’d see on a coffee table or in the gift area of a bookstore, it brings quality in its small packaging.  Andrews describes how his heart is touched and re-centered on the true meaning of the season.  Did he truly forget it?  Had I truly forgotten it?  No, not really.  But there are times when life’s stresses try to eclipse what is true and real, turning our eyes away from the very One who was sent here to save us. 

As I write this, the season has just begun.  The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit tonight. The decorations are going up in my home.  I’m preparing to perform Christmas carols in our church’s orchestra this weekend.  Will I get tired and frustrated again within the next few weeks?  Probably.  But will I allow the cynicism to creep in again?  I surely hope not.  And if it does begin to weasel its way into my heart once more, I’m going to remind myself of the thoughts within A Walk One Winter Night, concepts that are consistent with God’s word to us in Colossians:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  Colossians 1:15-17 NIV

I wish you all a blessed Christmas season.  May it be as real to you as it ever has been, because it truly is—the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality.

Nichole Nordeman's "Real", inspired by A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story

WINNING ARTIST’S NEW CHRISTMAS SONG Two Christian music veterans unite to bring audiences a “real Christmas story” 

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 23rd, 2013— Prominent counselor to many artists and acclaimed inspirational speaker Al Andrews recently signed on with The Worthy Publishing Group to publish his latest title, A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story (Freeman Smith, September 2013) based on a poignant holiday experience. Burnt out on the hustle, bustle, and expectations the holidays can bring, Andrews took a late night stroll and wound up rediscovering his real passion and the true meaning behind the Christmas season. This simple message has spoken to the heart of audiences, and will help readers rediscover the joy of wonder and what is real in the season.

Al sent his initial draft to a few trusted friends in the music business in order to get early feedback. As the written word so often does, the book struck a major chord with Dove-award winning recording artist and GMA female vocalist of the year, Nichole Nordeman. "Every once in awhile you come across a story that helps you tell your own,” said Nordeman,“From the very first page of A Walk One Winter Night, I recognized that the characters around the manger had become distant and no longer dear. Icons, not the fragile and weary souls they were. In this beautiful story, I saw them differently, maybe for the first time ever. And they jumped off the page and right into the music of my heart. ‘Real’ is a song that's deeply personal for me. I hope it captures the same wonder of the beautiful book that inspired it."

Nordeman will be performing “Real” throughout the fall tour of The Story, alongside artists Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, Selah, and Rawsrvnt. Tour dates and ticket information can be found at “Real” will also be featured on Capitol Christian Music Group’s album WOW Christmas, available nationwide in October.


Al Andrews is a counselor, author, and speaker. He is the director of Porter’s Call, a non-profit offering counsel, support, and encouragement to recording artists and their families. He is founder of Improbable Philanthropy, a charity that aids children in crisis through the sale of his children’s book, The Boy, the Kite, and the Wind. To learn more about Al Andrew’s visit; follow his daily journey on Twitter @itsalandrews.


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