It’s not pretty. It’s not always whole. It’s often aching. It’s needing help. It can feel so dark.
But, my heart is open to you. It’s open to the work that you want to do. It’s open to your will. It’s open to your desires for my life.
Don’t let me close my heart to you Lord. I will miss you. Don’t let me let you go unwelcomed.
Because you are what makes me.
You are what lifts me.
You are what gives my life a pulse.
When you are teaching me, instructing me and leading me, I am at one with you your heart.
You are a perfect visitor.
You take residence in an awe-inspiring way.
You don’t demand my service.
You don’t look at me with a judging eye.
You don’t wonder why I am not a better welcomer.
Instead, you actually welcome me into your heart. You welcome me into your ways.
I think I am giving – but it is actually YOU who gives.
You are the gracious host, because as I seek you, you let me come closer and closer to your heart, your ways and your safety. As I knock at your door, you welcome my heart to find safe refuge in you. This is where power is held. This is where your glory is found.
You teach me what love is.
To love others before myself.
To open a door to others in need.
To lift another who has fallen down.
To bring truth to others who feel lost.
Let me never shut the door to your love – because you never shut your love to me.
Let all of my heart be ready to welcome all of you – for it is only then that I will discover that you bring something far greater than a housewarming gift – you bring you. And all of you, is more than enough for all of me – because your grace changes all of me!
I walked out the door in a hurry. Mostly because for the last ten minutes my husband repeatedly told me to get out.
About this time last year I celebrated my birthday. I asked for a pedicure – with the unspoken word “alone” embedded in the message. Luke granted my request with an eager heart and threw in a “take the whole day” cherry on top. So, when the clock turned to 8:30 a.m. the morning of my birthday, and I was still in the house, Luke started pushing me out.
But when I shuffled outside, the limousine parked behind my car brought me to a screeching halt.
“Luuuuuke,” I yelled on my way back inside the house, “What is going on?”
With a mischievous smile he let me in on the plan he’d been working on for days now. A full-day girls get away to shop, eat and relax at the spa.
There I sat. No kids, dishes, laundry or list of to-dos. No demands to meet. No details to arrange. Nada. All I had to do was breathe. So I did. I took a big, deep breathe. I smiled and burrowed back in my chair. The stillness spelled P-E-A-C-E.
That two minutes, or so, was awesome ….
But before the driver could make one turn I put the hamster back on the wheel in my brain and let him loose.
Is he going to turn in front of that car? I better buckle up. And so it began. The rest of the ride up I balked from time to time. What is he doing? How fast is he going? Is he texting and driving?!
I could hear Luke’s voice in my head begging me to relax. You’re missing the whole point.
Decision time. Luke wrapped peace and pampering in a shiny black car and laid it in the driveway. All I had to do was get into the limousine. And I did. But once that door shut behind me, it was now up to me. I had to choose to enjoy the gift.
And my eyebrows raise at the thought: I can actually create my own state of tension and exhaustion. Anywhere. Anytime.
My awareness promoted at least a fight to put the hamster in his place. At the spa they soaked me, scrubbed me, peeled and painted me. I left exfoliated and rejuvenated.
Then the day after the spa happened. In a nutshell: Total anarchy.
The kids held a secret midnight meeting and decided to try to unseat me from my position of authority over them. It’s the only logical explanation for what went on here. Kicking. Screaming. The mother of all melt downs (by me and them).
And I giggle, because I’m thinking the same thing you are. What does this have to do with peace? And please don’t imagine this crazy house of people with hands joined singing “Amazing Grace” as we lay down our troubles and dish out hugs. Not even close.
But as the day wore on I noticed something inexplicable …. a smile. On my face and theirs.
Somehow, after a day so treacherous it prompted Luke to proclaim renewed confidence in his decision to have no more children, I mustered a smile. Even a laugh.
Stress in the limo while I ride to the spa. Peace in the kitchen while all of my little blessings fight over where to sit. This seems backwards, right? What gives? And then I realized,
Peace is not an arranged place or set of circumstances; it is an intentional position of the heart.
It’s the difference between my toddler standing in front of his daddy crying and screaming and stomping his feet, and this …
A head rested on a solid shoulder. A storm calmed underneath a strong arm. A little boy secure in his daddy’s grip.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, … Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:15-16 (ESV)
Strife can strike. Anywhere. Anytime. Or Peace can rule. Anywhere. Anytime. With His word in your heart and a His song on your lips, you make the call. I pick peace!
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, and 5 teams later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!
Soaked, two kids were packed under my arms.
When angry kids are in tow it’s never easy to move the cattle.
Rain makes it even more precarious.
So, I kept a singular focus on the car and ran with all my might.
I had no idea that this “rain dash” was set to give me a clear lesson on how to see and seize God opportunities in my own life…
No sooner did I lock them into their carseats than I noticed my daughter’s pink boot was gone.
Can’t they just keep their shoes on!
Along our 4-block mad dash, the stinkin’ boot was lost. Anger and irritation welled up in me.
I stood, in the rain, feeling like a sopping mess – and probably looking like one too.
I wanted to give up. To shut down. To let the rain take control. So, when I saw a grey shadow approaching, embarrassed, I kept my head down. I tried to divert my eyes. I wanted to hide under the car…until, I noticed something in his hands…
This man stepped into the rain – to minister to my pain. He saw my plight – and was determined to make things right. He knew it was the right thing to do – and he handed me the shoe.
He transformed an about-to-lose-it-moment into an I’m-so-blessed-moment.
Because he let go of convenience – and stepped into rainy inconvenience he made the difference. Because he looked beyond comfort, to see – not his iPhone, his to-do list or his worries – he saw the opportunity – a struggling, frustrated mom.
Willing. Ready. Available to help.
Am I this way?
It got me to thinking, how often do I miss God’s opportunities because I am too focused on insecurities, worries and incapabilities? How often am I too focused on my phone, destination or tasks to see another?
When we can’t see past ourselves, we can’t see others.
When we can’t see others, we can’t see their pain.
When we can’t see hurts, we can’t love hurts.
We walk right past. Head down. We don’t see. We miss it. We miss out.
When I’m so busy doing, I can’t be seeing. Seeing another in need. Seeing a selfless act. Seeing God’s will.
I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to offer help to a hopeless person. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to love a cancer-filled woman. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself that I miss the chance to hold hands with one in agony.
Because God has created me for more. He has created you for more. He has created us to love, to give, to run into the rain and to sacrifice for others. When we step outside of ourselves, we step into purpose, into joy and into meaning. There is nothing better.
He has given us gifts to encourage and love. Will we use them? He has joy within the embrace of a hug. Will we feel it? He has hurting souls right in our midst – on purpose. Will we see them?
If we can just keep our eyes up! If we can just be willing, ready and available – then we will see. We will see the great chances the Lord has set before us to sacrifice and to step out of our comfort zones to love another. We will see the world through new light.
This is the opportunity the Lord has set before us:
…The LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting…that He may be glorified. (Is. 61:1-3)
Lord, let us be vehicles of your good news. Let us see lives changed, hearts healed, hope renewed, then we will see lives improved. We will see your hand, your will and your glory at work.
I so want that.
I wan’t to be the person holding the pink boot for another sopping wet super frustrated, tired mom, don’t you?
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Christmas vacation came to an abrupt end as my husband and I listened to water gush underneath the bathroom floor. It wasn’t just coming out of the drainage pipe. No, it sounded like a waterfall beneath our feet.
The longer we stood there waiting for the noise to stop, the more dollar signs I saw adding up in my head. This was the second plumbing issue we’d encountered during Christmas break, and we still had not received the bill from the first service call.
As my mind raced with endless possibilities, I sent up a frail prayer hoping the damage would be minimal. Although I avoided complaining outwardly, I inwardly assumed the posture of punished child.
Why did this have to happen right after Christmas, when we’d just spent money on travel and gifts? Why did these types of things always happen in multiples?
Potty training a high-maintenance, strong-willed child added to my list of stresses. A struggling family member kept me awake at night.
As my inner monologue rehearsed all of these things, it sounded like a six-year-old whining. But the thought that disturbed me the most was one I’ve seen countless times from followers of Christ when times get hard:Why was God punishing me? What had I done?
Had we missed a tithe check, neglected acts of service or turned a blind eye to someone in need? As my mind sunk further into a downward cycle of self-pity, I knew my thoughts were not from the Creator. I was in the midst of a battle of the mind, and I needed to grasp onto the light of Truth.
I stole a few moments by myself and counted gifts. I thanked God that I have a husband who is handy and able to make repairs when times get rough. I thanked him that we live in an area where we have resources available to us. As I walked our dogs, I praised God for the beautiful weather we came home to the previous day. But the further I went down a rocky, uneven path, the more one question kept repeating itself in my head.
Why do I perceive negative circumstances as punishment from God, but often fail to recognize blessings as God’s love?
I reflected on everything I love about my life on a given day. A song that comes on the radio at just the right time. The way my three-year-old throws himself into hugs, his whole body wrapped around you. A beautiful sunrise that turns the entire horizon a deep shade of orange.
How could I not look at each of these gifts and think, “Wow, God must really love me”? And if I recognized each of these blessings as an expression of love from my Creator, how would it change me?
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
He does not change, friends. He doesn’t have a mood swing and decide to clog up your drain. He doesn’t get hormonal and decide not to listen to your prayer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
When he allows us to face trials, it is not because he is angry with us, but to draw us to Him and refine us. Each struggle we face is an opportunity to build character.
Tonight, as I sit in the soft glow of the Christmas tree, I’m still counting. I’m counting not only the gifts he’s given me, but the ones I know will come. Because he’s that good.
As the list grows, I feel his love swelling up inside of me. He loves me so much. And he loves you, too.
So today, as your brewing your coffee and listening to your favorite tune on the radio, remember he created this day just for you. Let truth of that realization sink in and fill you with a love so deep it overflows.
Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.
When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
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Lose weight. Work out. Be patient. Act kind. Grow closer to God. Stop a bad habit. Is it possible to actually keep your New Year resolutions?
We all want to be better, act better and do better – but often our well-intentioned resolutions – end up as New Year illusions, leaving us tied up in confusion. We wonder where we went wrong? How we dropped the ball?
Many times, it’s easier to altogether avoid New Year claims then to deal with the fear of their pending shame.
But, Christ doesn’t model stagnant living.
And, he certainly doesn’t call us to avoid improving because we fear losing.
So, how can we truly change?
In my mind, I want to change, but my heart fears that I can’t. I fear I’ll drop the ball. I fear that my dreams will become just that – dreams – unattainable distant images. So I raise a wall of indifference out of fear that I’ll let both God and myself down down.
As always, the Lord doesn’t remain silent when truth needs to be grasped. And, in his always-faithful way, he answers saying, “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (Is. 28:16)
And, it’s just this cornerstone that makes all the difference. It’s this stone that holds it all together. It’s the foundation. The stone that prevents everything from falling.
It’s the stone that holds me together. It’s the stone that will be my foundation. It’s the stone that cements all resolutions. The one that allows the entire structure to stand firm. The one that we can build upon safely. The cornerstone – Christ Jesus.
What is the foundation of your resolutions? Is it your own work? Your own might? Your own strength?
Or, do you rely on the stone that will never let you be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6)?
The stone that let’s hard work stand.
Because the truth is, without Christ, all resolutions disintegrate.
By ourselves, we will crack, chip and crumble.
In our own strength, we’ll build foundations of quicksand.
Quicksand that will swallow up all our well-intentioned efforts.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:11)
Many of my own works, desires and New Year pursuits have been built on my own goals, ideas and dreams – rather than the foundation of the Lord. In this, they were almost all destined to fail.
Build your Resolutions Upon a Firm Foundation
This year, my resolutions will be built upon a firm foundation. A foundation that is completely reliant on the chief cornerstone. A foundation of intentions that are derived from him, focused on him and rooted in my trust of him.
Because if they aren’t – all resolutions will quake to the floor – and the only resolution that I will be left with is a resolution to clean up a mess of well-intentioned goals.
Christ changes it all though. With Christ as a foundation, our buildings are secure, established and indestructible. Yet, without him, our work is in vain.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Ps. 127:1)
We can safely build upon the cornerstone, by seeking the will of the cornerstone – Christ Jesus – in our lives.
We can safely build upon the cornerstone by submitting ourselves to his work.
We can safely build upon the cornerstone by asking for his help daily.
We can safely build upon the cornerstone by embracing his grace when we start to slip.
Then, at the end of the day – when we gaze at the Lord’s work, we will marvel at it’s beauty. Rightfully and naturally, all glory and honor will go to him – the master carpenter, who builds in perfection.
It won’t be vain or about our glory – or our demise – but it will be all about the ultimate builder. The one who builds beauty, holiness and eternal structures of significance.
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Do you feel stagnant? Like you are trying to accelerate, but your car is going nowhere? There are truths when you feel stuck. Do you know them?
At times, we all feel stuck. We wonder, “Are we making a difference? Serving a purpose? Changing lives? Impacting the world? Is our life adding up to anything meaningful?”
Like a car spinning its wheels, we feel the same. Round and round we go – going nowhere. Pushing and pushing with all our might – but we stay suck. Pressing and pressing our gas pedals – but our wheels dig in deeper.
It’s aggravating. Frustrating. Demoralizing.
It doesn’t matter if we steer in the right direction, because we aren’t going anywhere. So, we look up to God, and ask, “Why?” We feel like giving up.
I sludged around in the mud for so long. I spent much of my life working in jobs that never satisfied. I often arrived to work with a smile – and left for home with a frown. I felt purposeless. Passionless. And, disappointed in myself.
During this time, I realized:
To live without cause is to feel like a fraud.
To not make a difference is to become indifferent.
To fake like you’re okay is to put on a good play.
To not see results feels like an insult.
I believed – and still believe – this is not how God intends us to live. God desires us to be authentic, patient and enduring.
Yet, so many days, I can return to this place of “stuck”. I may want bigger progress. More lives changed. I may want to do better spiritually. Or to be a better mom. Or to have circumstances improve. I may just want to feel closer to God.
Often, I just feel stuck.
But, God is faithfully teaching me that, many times, he is diligently at work to get me unstuck from life’s muck. Even more, we tend to best receive the Lord’s sermons when we are stuck in muck.
It is here where we can’t move, where we have to wait, where we must be still. And, we hear the Lord in profound ways.
The Lord has 3 critical lessons he wants us to grab hold of, instead of our life’s steering wheel:
1. God has us just where he wants us to be.
He knows where we are. He sees us. He has not forgotten about us. This place of frustration is a place of transformation. It is in this place, where we must stop and wait on him. It is here where we can find his love, his direction and his guidance.
It’s in these places of “wait” where God’s work really gets started. This muddy ground is his best working ground. It is here, where he molds us – growing us in patience, endurance and perseverance.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
2. He is preparing, reforming and transforming us to do his work.
Fear not. Even though we feel stuck, it doesn’t mean our lives have gone amuck. Because it’s here we can choose to trust, grow and sow. As we sow faith, we let go of fear. As we let go of fear (sometimes the fear of mediocrity), true purpose surfaces – it is here we find – our calling.
The bottom line of true calling is pleasing and serving the Lord.
When we let go of fear and indifference – we start making a difference.
We understand that he is at work – in us – instead of us demanding to have him work – through us.
We spin our wheels less and he produces more and more fruit. Fruit that we can go share with others. In this, we find rest, encouragement and renewed passion.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
3. God put a calling in our hearts. Listen and follow.
God made us with a purpose and for a purpose. Perhaps we are still in the training stages. An Olympian cannot just walk out on the track and get the gold. Likewise, there are hard training days that accompany our work for the Lord. We have to put the hard work in. Work that is endless, tiring and ongoing.
God is sovereign; he decides the proper time to exalt us. We can wait on him. Even if that time of exaltation is at heavens door, we can still trust in his plan.
Let’s not miss the moment. Because the most important calling for our lives is not the one we dream of – but the one that he has already placed in front of us – for this exact moment. Let’s not miss it.
Let’s call out to the Lord.
He will help us.
His words will guide us in our way.
When we stop focusing on our circumstances and start focusing on him – things start to happen.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)
We can’t give up our drive; this was placed in us by God. But, we must keep our eyes on the one who provides “the way”. Then, in God’s perfect timing, our wheels will stop spinning – and start moving us to destinations we never dreamed.
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I am delighted to have this story featured on God Sized Dreams today…
Sometimes we have that one dream. We want it so badly. We want it with all that we are. We can see it. We can feel it. It rules our mind. It drives our behaviors. It consumes our thoughts.
We can only imagine what life will be like when we finally have it. Things will change. Life will matter. Everything will come into perspective.
God knows how much is riding on this. Right? We think so. So, we diligently pray, as any good Christian should do. We ask and we seek to no end. We call up to God and bare our heart. We let him know how much we need this one dream to come through. We tell him exactly how we see it working out.
I have done this so many times. I have dreamed big dreams. I have hoped big hopes. I have wanted things to go a certain way. In fact, I have almost demanded they go a certain way….
Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room. There was no space. Every inch of the inn was occupied.
“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)
As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered. We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.” Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”
This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”
Making room for Jesus means we:
– Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
– Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
– Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
– Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
– Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
– Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.
Prepare your heart. Make room for the King. He is coming.
Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given. Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.
“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”
A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”
Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?
But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.
“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”
They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.
Except for last year ….
Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.
Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.
So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,
“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”
And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.
I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.
And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.
“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”
Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”
For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”
I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.
Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.
“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”
Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.
“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.
But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.
All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.
He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.
Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?
God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.
He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world?
But Jesus did.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)
Our box filled up pretty quick after that.
Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)
God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com, and I’d love for you to visit me!