The Manger Never Stops Being Amazing



“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” –Luke 2:6-7

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. –Luke 2:15-19


I have written at other times on this blog about the circumstances surrounding the birth of my firstborn. God let my husband and I know He was with us in the midst of the frightening circumstances. I felt God's love more tangibly than any other point in my life.

That memory is always particularly poignant when my son's birthday comes around. But the story is no less powerful at any other time of the year. When we share it with others, they share our joy and hope in a God who cares for us.

Christmas Day was almost a week ago already. Time keeps relentlessly trudging forward. Some of us had holidays we will never forget, some had days they wish they could. The month of December, as all months, was likely a mix of joy and sorrow, stress and peace, despair and hope, busyness and calm. Some expectations were exceeded; some were never even got out the front door of our hearts.

As the month of December flew by, I had let go of many of my hopes, this series being a daily occurrence among them. We had more commitments than I realized, and it was so difficult to keep up. I wish there had been more peace, more quiet, and more space for contemplation.

I feel like I missed out on the way I wanted Advent to be.

But, the thing is, Advent reflections don’t have to fit inside the window of December 1-25. We never have to put end caps on our wonderment about the incarnation. The picture of God coming to earth in the form of a baby never stops demonstrating His love.


Emmanuel, thank You for coming so many years ago and thank You for being here with us now. You are always loving, always filled with grace, and always beyond our expectations. Help us keep our sense of wonderment about who You are and how You came to us. Fill us with Your love, and let it overflow to this world You came to save. Amen.


Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin

“Emmanuel, Emmanuel God incarnate, here to dwell Emmanuel, Emmanuel Praise His name Emmanuel”


Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.


Thank you for joining me for my Advent series! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season! Please join me in 2014 as I pick back up with my Psalms Journey series, as well as reflections on the everyday life of faith.

Noticing Immanuel: A Series for Advent

I wasn't going to do an Advent series this year.  

After all, it's already a busy season. Adding daily posts to the agenda? It's just too much.


But then, I thought back to these last two Advent seasons. And I remembered  the importance of the posts that went up for the Prepare series and the Wonder series. Not because they were my most popular posts. Far from it, actually. At this time of year, some of the posts get hardly a glance.


No, an Advent series is not important because of how it makes me popular. It is important because of how it makes me whole.


These posts are a spiritual discipline: a centering on the things that matter when distractions swirl around every moment.


Our lives will keep trudging forward through December. Onward they will march, through stores and parties and gift-making and baking, until Christmas is here and gone and we hardly know how to recover from it all. Along the way we will see signs and symbols and pictures of the season.


NoticingImmanuelThose everyday sights will be the inspiration for my Advent Series: Noticing Immanuel. I hope it will help us pause and notice how God is with us in the midst of it all. How, if we pay attention, the things we can see can point us towards the God who came, the God who is near, the God who we worship, the God who we love, the God who loves us.


Each day will start with that noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That will lead us through a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those things a second time, it will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.


Noticing Immanuel begins tomorrow. Please join me if you are able.

Make Your Face Shine on Us

psalm 80

Sometimes you have a post planned, and you have to let it go.


It is a post about the vine of Israel, the imagery of  Psalm 80, and how the answer to that prayer comes through the True Vine of John 15.


Sometimes you have a post like that planned, and you can't write it.


Because it might be a reflection someone else would find interesting, but it wouldn't be the reflection you need.


Sometimes you have a post planned about one thing, and God helps you notice something new.


You see a repetition and an evolution of words that need to be your prayer for the day.


And so instead of writing your own words, you write the words of that prayer.


Restore us, O God;     make your face shine on us,     that we may be saved. -Psalm 80:3

Restore us, God Almighty;     make your face shine on us,     that we may be saved. -Psalm 80:7

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;     make your face shine on us,     that we may be saved. -Psalm 80:19


Sometimes you have a plan to write, and God turns your plans into prayers.


Lord God Almighty, I make your face to shine on me to today. I need you.


That was my reflection on Psalm 80. Please link up with your own reflection below. Then come back next week to reflect on Psalm 81. (Email & RSS readers, click over to my website to add your link or read the links of others.)