The Day After Christmas

The gifts are opened. The food eaten. The house is a disaster. Some return to work, others are left with family (who linger too long or not long enough) before schedules demand a return home. Leftovers are scattered throughout the kitchen. Pesky remnants of wrapping paper stay hidden behind couches and the tree. All that glittered so brightly with the awe of the season yesterday, warm and full of sentiment and memory, seems just a bit tarnished this morning- too garish in the early light and somehow colder. We’re tired, usually a good exhaustion, but spent nonetheless; the yawning reality that the big day, Christmas, has come and gone once again saddens us. And with it the small heartache that reality has already started seeping back in to our lives. If only the feeling, that intangible wonderfulness of the season could last forever. Our hearts yearn to linger in the soft light of the manger for just a bit longer.

Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright ‘round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

What a lovely scene.

But just as the day after every child’s birth must come- life continues. Mary awoke to the reality of having just brought a baby into the world. And now life started... or rather continued- with a <slight> new Addition. Life- with all the stress, schedules, messiness, and tomorrows pushes forward despite our best efforts to tarry in yesterdays. If only it could be Christmas forever. After all, no one sings carols about the day AFTER Christmas.

Mary had a new baby to feed, clothe, teach, basically keep alive and healthy- the responsibility of which I’m sure was not lost on her. The reality of her life the day after her Son’s birth must have looked downright terrifying and bleak. Suddenly the lowing of the livestock wasn’t as soothing as it had been the night before. The sweet smell of the fresh straw had been replaced by the iron-laced tinge of blood and animal dung. Last night’s warmth of the cozy cave chilled as the morning light seeped too early through the rafters and slats reminding the new parents that life, indeed, continued around them. The day after Christmas came too soon, too brightly, too loudly. Their sweet, silent night had come and gone. As many times it does for us all. Though we long to replicate those precious days, all too often the worry and stress of our days overshadow the silence of our nights.

And yet Mary and Joseph got to take their little CHRISTmas with them. They walked with their Christmas right out of that stable and carried Him with them for the rest of their lives.

So also can we. The warmth, the glow, the reason for the season as we like to say... IS the Christ child. And the most wonderful gift is not just that He was given to us but more so that we can take Him with us... always, anywhere, forever. The feeling we long for, the silent and holy nights we cherish, are ours to walk in, to rest in.

Knowing this reality, sleep in heavenly peace dear one. Amidst all the days after Christmas, take the Christ with you.

And sleep in heavenly peace.

The Father Who Delights

I’m one of those Christians who is super great at checking boxes. Quiet time  Went to church Prayer time  Time in ministry 

I’m not necessarily legalistic, but I can tend to measure my spiritual life by how many boxes I’m able to check during my days. Not that they’re not good, and meaningful, and worthy; but too often I feel guilty if I think not enough ‘work’ for the Kingdom and in myself is being done.

I love that my God is merciful- I need His mercy. I love that He is gracious- I cherish His grace. I love His love for me.

But sometimes I forget that He actually LIKES me too. For a sinner like me that part of His character is often one that I don’t contemplate and rest in enough.

Yes, God loves us.... but He likes us too. In fact, scripture tells us He DELIGHTS in us. Ponder that for a minute.... it’s kind of an amazing thing if you think about it.

There’s a song that we sing at the closing of each term at Camp Barnabas (a Christian Camp for disabled kids where I work). I cry every time at the words as the staff sings these verses over their beloved campers; sending them back into an often harsh world. My prayer every time is that these souls cling to the truth in them- it’s taken from Zephaniah 3:17

For the Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will comfort you with His love, And He will rejoice over you in song.

These words ring just as true for me and for you. God delights in us. He rejoices over US. He just plain LIKES us.

If you’re anything like me, that’s a wonderful (and hard!) reality to accept. But it is true all the same. Take heart, draw in close, and revel in the fact that Yahweh, Almighty God, Abba Father likes you!

God is in the Details

The following is from my weekly post through Holy Beautiful. Please take a minute to hear my heart. Enjoy and be sure to stop and smell the roses today!  

These last few months have been a very interesting season with God and myself. I say interesting because I can’t. quite. figure. out a better way to describe it. After 10 years of critical care and ER nursing, 7 of those as a flight nurse, He led me away to…. well, nothing. I’m not doing anything right now. For someone who’s had a job of some sort since I was 15, and used to working long, hard, intense hours, it’s a super weird place to say the least.

And to make things really interesting, bills are coming due, and I have zero idea of even where to apply. I’ve stuck. I’m God-stuck. It’s a super peaceful place, I know that I’m not supposed to be employed currently. But it’s also a very uncomfortable place for me.

But God has been teaching me about the details. His details. Despite the fact that scripture is chalk-full of promises about the details (see Matthew 6 for just a glimpse!), I’m learning a whole new way to appreciate His details.

God is a details guy, and I love that about Him!

Take a look around nature. The design, the spectacle, the scenery, the intricacies… the details. He most certainly could’ve mailed it in. He could’ve stopped at a billion stars, yet He went on to design a billion galaxies with a billion stars each. He could’ve called it a day painting each sunset, yet each one is different. He most certainly could’ve mass produced the exact same snowflake a gazillion times and no one would have noticed. Yet He didn’t.

And yet stars, and galaxies, rain, snow, flowers, sunsets, and sunrises are not even close to the crowning glory of His creation. Us.

Wow.

God cares… no, He focuses, He tends, He plans and prepares for us- His people, the sons and daughters of His family. Each hair on our head, each beat of our heart, each breath we take- is by His design. By His detail. There is not a single. solidary. second. of our lives that’s not been already purposed for us. That is an overwhelming thought. One that I admittedly can’t quite get my head all the way around. But it’s pretty awesome to fathom just the tip of the iceberg of the details that God designs.

Too often I find myself missing the trees for the forest. I’m a big picture gal. I often get bogged down in details that overwhelm me, that I perceive as too many or too cumbersome. Details, especially ones that I can’t ‘fix’ stress me out. Anyone else?

I miss the little things all the time because I’m not a detail-person. But those details do matter. The bills, the check-ups, the oil changes, the pancake making, the carpooling, the vacuuming, the homework, the weeding, the quiet times- our lives are nothing if not the sum of a ginormous amount of details all coming together to make that big picture.

Like a mosaic with tiles, each one is necessary to the big picture. Those tiny tiles matter. The details matter, they’re important, they’re necessary.

And if you take a minute at them (or in my case, I’ve got nothing better to do right now than to concentrate minutely on them… one. by. one….), the individual beauty… better… the grace and mercy impregnated within each of those tiles, each of those moments, each of those seconds, each of those details… is astounding. The Grand Plan, the design, the forethought and care given to each one is breath-taking.

I am grateful for the Designer of Details in my life. I am grateful for His hand in every one of them. I am grateful for my big picture being taken from me and learning to focus on each moment and appreciate it for what it is and nothing else. What a low level of perspective to have! And the wonderful thing is that while my focus may be super limited right now, the big picture still exists outside of my periphery. It’s still there, being designed and perfected constructed by the Master Artist.

Writing this, I’d like to think that this particular tile that God has zeroed me into right now must be super important to the bigger mosaic.

And yet a gentle whisper tells me that isn’t so- God spends this much time on all His details.

And that, dear ones, is comforting.