Tag Archives: Creation

A Christmas Day Change

From the time we were married 25 years ago, Richard and I have enjoyed celebrating Christmas with his family. On Christmas Day, we’d load up the car with gifts, food and treats and head over to his sister’s house.  With no children of our own, it was exhilarating to see the holiday through the eyes of our young nephews and niece. It was magical, delightful and filled with gleeful anticipation. As they grew older, the season still held beautiful festivities, but instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in wee little heads, we created new memories. More mature, maybe more solemn, but moments in time still etched into the deepest corners of our hearts.

Change is like that. Sometimes it is welcome, expected, natural. You wouldn’t want the same presents under the tree you asked for at five when you were twenty-five, would you? But then change can also be harder, a bit pushier and very unnatural, like a diet or trying to quit smoking. And what if the change isn’t your idea, like a layoff at work or a bad medical report? Hardly anyone is interested in that!

This Christmas ushers in a huge personal change. For the first time since I married Richard, we won’t be going to his sister’s cozy house in Illinois to enjoy time with family and friends. Instead we’ll be celebrating our first California Christmas as a couple. As excited as I am to be together in our new home state, there is also a touch of fear. Will our holiday be as rich on our own? Will this allow us to create some meaningful new traditions? Or will we miss the loud boisterous unwrapping of the presents and the constant stream of conversation around the dinner table?

Nativity 12225115But then I remember words written in the book of Matthew that literally changed the world. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us. Matthew 1:22-23

For the first time ever, God would dwell on earth, coming to be with His people. What a drastic change! For over six hundred of years, God had been silent. The earth yearned for His arrival. And then during those early morning hours on the day Jesus was born, everything about the world was transformed.  God would be with us like He had never been before.

Which turns my anxiousness about a new way of celebrating Christmas into a question: Does God allow change in our lives so we experience His presence in a new way? More than anything else, I want God beside me. And it seems one of times when I feel God the closest is when changed is forced on me.

Emotions always run high around this holiday. Maybe this is the first time you can’t be with the person you love on Christmas. Or maybe you’ve set your holiday expectations so high, the reality of Christmas morning will pale by comparison. Maybe the change is blissful – you are rejoicing in news you never expected to hear. Whether good or bad news, this new, uncomfortable territory will always hold the promise of God’s all-caring presence.

With His birth, Jesus changed the world from hopeless to hope-filled. With His presence, He moves our heartaches towards His grace. We may long for something we honestly think is the very best outcome for us. However if we willingly wait for His resolution, we find Him giving us gifts that bless the ever-changing landscape of our lives. Christmas says we all need change and God is willing to carry every single one of us back to heaven.

If you fear an uncomfortable change right now, take heart in knowing His glory in the highest runs down to meet us who are at our lowest. And if the change is new, exciting and welcome, thank Him for creating that transformation. Christmas is, at its heart, God remaking us.

On the first Christmas night, God overcame the world’s suffering by laying aside His power and becoming a helpless baby. Throughout His life, He demonstrated how to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, seek peace and grant forgiveness. He quietly laid Himself down so that there might be the best change ever in this world – peace on earth and good will towards men!

Merry Christmas!


It is tough for me to get lost. I know part of it is an inbred sense of direction, but there is something else. I pay attention. I look for the landmarks – the street signs, the buildings alongside the road, the curve of the highway. Even with a GPS in my car, I never use it more than once to get to the same destination. And I don’t even use it on the way home. I might not be able to tell you the names of the streets I took, but I always find my way home.

I believe as a child of God the only way to spend your life is to pay attention to the world. It’s fallen; it’s imperfect. There are parts of it that are downright ugly. But even in the ugliest, slimiest, most putrid smelling place, there is God. He showers His miracles everywhere on this earth.

He doesn’t put up a sign to say, “Watch this.” I believe that would take away the joy of us finding them. But every morning, He whispers to us, “Pay attention and prepare to be amazed.”

The cynical side of our nature, of the world, wants to speak always of the darkness of our world, the harshness, the hurt of living. It is a shattered world. In its brokenness, in its shadows, the world also reveals the most profound imagination of our Creator.

It is easy for us to only see the dark, but we are children of the Light. That means we should seek the Light in everything. It’s easy when we are youngsters. We find joy in the silliest things. Remember water sprinklers, catching snowflakes on your tongue, freezing Kool-Aid in ice trays, looking for out of state license plates on a long road trip?

Then we grow into adulthood and we lose a part of ourselves. We lose the extraordinary in the ordinary. It becomes too easy to exist rather than to live fully, freely, openly. But God is still whispering over our days, “Pay attention and prepare to be amazed.”

watermelonGod’s lovesong is all about us as we walk through life. See the color of your coworker’s eyes. Hear the melody of the cars on the road. Taste the sweetness of watermelon. Look around you, for you are surrounded each and every day by His loving creativity.

Pay attention to the wind in the dark, the trees slapping against the house, the dog barking in the distance. Pay attention to the world, both the prickly wrong parts of it and the exquisitely beautiful parts of it. Drink it all in until you see His love peeking through both the darkest storms and the delicate glow of morning’s light. If you stare at it long enough, you’ll develop a longing for Home – the place where you will be welcome by God.

Today, feel His nearness; His relevance to you. If you watch the landmarks our Creator has so graciously put along our path, your heart will break with a longing for Home. Watch the landmarks that gently lead you to the One who is devoted to you. In His love, you’ll find your way Home.

Pay attention and be amazed!

Missing Spring

When I lived in Chicago, my favorite season was spring. It was exciting, thrilling, invigorating to see green peeking up under the gray, drab snow. The budding trees, the tulips, the daffodils, the grass, long dormant, perking up to a warm emerald once again. Even the air smelled differently – infused with the faintest hint of wildflowers and roses long before the temperature rose above 50!

Despite the calendar heralding the beginning of spring, it is still winter in my heart. The hush is profound just like newly fallen snows silences the world. Naturalists tell us winter is preparation; there is growth going on underneath the surface. I don’t see it in myself…not right now. So, I resist the stillness, hoping my heart will not become more bruised than it already is.

Early Spring FlowersDuring the winter seasons of my life, I wonder if I’m valuable to God. Am I doing anything significant? How am I contributing? It is during winter I wonder why God has abandoned me, let me down, replaced conversation with mind-numbing quiet. I want to will myself into spring, into the season of enormous growth, of riotous color, of warming sunshine, so I keep busy. But that never works.

I try to see winter as necessary. While we both see my struggles, God sees more than that. He sees the growth within the stillness. The season of preparing. The repairing of my heart so when spring finally arrives, I will be able to grow, to bear fruit, to give.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” If you are in winter right now, you long for spring to replace the fallow ground with verdant fields. Despite the fickleness of the changing seasons in our heart, there is one constant. God loves us. He knows our circumstances. He understands our needs and our desires. Every day, forever, He is our companion, caring for us in ways we can’t comprehend. Every day, always.

Take heart, my fellow travelers in winter. Grab a hold of God’s hand. He will lead you into the spring waiting just over the horizon.