When Your Six-Year-Old Schools You About Fruits and Roots

There’s this thing about the childlike faith thing that unravels me a little bit — I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. Maybe it’s because I see my children as just a little wild, just a little spontaneous… just a little too young for me to figure out how faith like a child can get it — the grand and glorious goodness of a humble and holy God.

Does it take wisdom to take Jesus to heart?

Doesn’t it?

For all my sensibilities, I would’ve thought so.

But a little child shall lead them…

An impromptu prompting came to my mind on a homeschooling Monday morning. Our sweet little Tiger Tank safely dropped off at preschool, the Belle beside me crunching a few crumbs at the table, the Bear and I sat down to begin our day, and I laid my big Bible on the table, and turned to Galatians.

Can you read chapter 6, verse 7 for me?

I helped him find the way.

He began: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that will he reap.”


We talked about the big words in this verse, and then about sowing seeds and reaping harvests. If I sow an apple seed, will an orange tree grow? No. Since the beginning, God created the world so that the seeds we sow will reap a harvest according to the seed. And if someone says I can plant these apple seeds and grow orange trees? They are deceiving me. (Or trying to.) We talked and questioned and talked a bit more.

We’ll be planting our garden soon. And we talked it out: our cucumber seeds will give us cucumber plants. Our tomato seeds will give us tomato plants.

But what other kinds of seeds can we sow?

We looked back at the adjacent page, laid open for the reading, and remembered something we talked about last year: the fruits of the Spirit. We can sow seeds of kindness. If you are kind to your brother, he is likely to be more kind to you. We can sow seeds of gentleness. We can sow seeds of patience, goodness, self-control. 

And can we sow bad seeds? And what happens if we do? What will we reap if we hurt? If we’re mean? Don’t you receive your own discipline if you hurt your brother or sister? These are different seeds that grow different fruits.

He took the concept to heart, and ran with it. It took him a moment to put it into words, but then I was so struck my jaw hung open, hearing his observation:

“The bad roots tangle the good roots and pull the good roots, and they break off the good roots so that they can’t find water.”

I hadn’t even mentioned the word “roots” — or thought about roots yet, for that matter.

Wide-eyed at his observation, wondering about his understanding, I quickly wrote down what he’d said.

Isn’t this true: There is no fruit if there is no root.

And isn’t this a truth about life? For all the good we might be attempting to sow, if we are also sowing bad seeds — we only have this one life, this one garden to plant in — and we can’t think that the one will not affect the other.

If we keep sowing seeds of anger, and we protect that plant, and allow it to flourish instead of pulling it up like the weed that it truly is — won’t that anger affect the rest of our lives? Deep underneath the soil, those roots will strangle the good things trying to take root, find water and grow.

We might find a convenient tomato cage to put around our bitterness, try to keep it to its own little corner of the garden — but those roots will stretch out under the ground in any direction they choose. And they’ll hinder the growth and flourishing of the good seeds we’re sowing. Deep under the soil, things are happening we can’t see and don’t always understand.

We discovered it quickly in our garden last year: it’s hard to grow good things. It’s easy to grow weeds.

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On the way home from a photo session that evening, the Hubs and I were chatting, and I shared about the Bear’s significant comments on that Bible verse that morning. Then a professional athlete came up in conversation who was once the premier player in his sport. He won and won and won, and changed the face of the sport he represented, and then it all came crashing down when a big bright light was shone on his personal life. A mistress, an affair, infidelity — it seemed like all the world had front row seats to watch his world, falling apart.

And we thought long and observed: the roots were all planted in the same soil. For all the care and discipline and focus and effort he showed in excelling in his sport, still the lack of care and focus and discipline in his personal life meant tangled up roots — the bad seeds he sowed in his personal life produced bad fruit, and the good fruit of his professional life was a casualty when it came time to harvest.

For all our efforts, we are still only human at the best of times. We get angry. We get bitter. We get hurt and we react.

What hope is there for any of us, who will only ever fall short?

Paul wrote about it to the Romans, {see ch. 7} his observation about how he did what he did not want to do, and did not do what he did want to do. Sin dwells in me, he wrote. Oh wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?

I thank God — through Jesus Christ Our Lord! 

Here is the hope for all of us: Jesus, who died to sin and died for sin, so that we could be freed from sin to live a new life in Him.

Paul continued this theme in chapter 8 with the glorious news:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We know we fall short. We know we sow amiss. But the law is fulfilled for us in Him — for us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Left to our own devices, we will always only ever be a mess. But if we yield our lives to the Spirit of God, Who can dwell in us, and Whose fruit is kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control… there is hope for us still.

We can sow kindness, and reap it. Sow gentleness and receive it in return.

The gardens of our hearts will not likely be weed-free until some glad morning when we’re called to our forever home in Him… but there is hope that even in this life, we can find help to get some weeds out of our hearts, to sow good seeds, and bear good fruit.

The afternoon of our great conversation, there was a marked difference in the Bear’s behavior. He was carefully choosing to say “Yes ma’am.” To listen and immediately do what I’d asked. To be respectful and polite and to share.

You’re being such a thoughtful boy today! I thanked him and praised his efforts.

He quickly replied as if it must’ve been obvious: “I want to sow good seeds.”


Get Back Up

It’s unfortunate. It’s painful. It’s lousy. It hurts.

Life knocks you down.

You know what I mean?

The thing happens that you were praying wouldn’t.

Those words are said and they cut you so deep your heart physically hurts for a while.

He is sick or she is sick or you are sick and it is scary and it is hard and it hurts.

You’re forced to say goodbye way before you expected, and you just weren’t ready.

One way or another, one cause or another, sometimes you’re on your back, looking at the ceiling. And sometimes, you’re not even completely sure how you got there.


At first, it hurts to be on the floor. It hurts to be down. It hurts to be laid low, and it hurts to feel it affect how you live. The light in your eyes is gone. The joie de vivre is missing. Your hope grew feathers and flew away without you.

After a while, you wonder how long you can stay down. And, sometimes, you think… maybe I should just stay down. Big dreams end with big heartache, so I’m staying small, you think. It’s not so bad laying low, being close to the ground. Less likely getting hurt down here anyway.

You’re still breathing, sure, but sometimes, you kind of stop living.

A few decades late to the punch, I devoured the Rocky films a few years ago. I loved the portrayal of the inner fight so much more than anything happening in the ring. The story (in Rocky I) of somebody who felt like a nobody pouring every ounce of himself into a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change his destiny — it was a story about heart that someone who didn’t care an ounce for boxing could still relate to.

We’ve all at some stage felt like a nobody who believed they had more inside of them to live for and to give to the world, than just this.

But the most compelling aspect of the story (for me) at nearly every turn, was watching Rocky’s decision to get back up.

When he faced a super-trained Soviet giant, (Rocky IV) and all the odds were against him, and he was outmatched in size and strength and he had nothing but his own determination to avenge the death of an old friend, he got in the ring. He took the hits that came his way, and sure, steady, consistently, he fought round after round after round, winning a crowd who began the match completely against him — simply because they were amazed by how he fought with heart. How he got back up.

What compelled him to get up again and again, what compelled him to keep going, every time he was clocked or decked or nearly knocked out?

I can only think that he kept getting back up because he still believed he had a chance at victory. He fought to win. And he always fought with everything he had in him.

We get knocked to the mat in life, too. And it can feel like we’ve got an opponent standing over us, willing us to stay down.

And the truth is, we do.

Paul warned the Corinthians — Our enemy will try to take advantage of us. We cannot afford to be ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

It would suit our enemy well for us to get knocked down and to stay down.

To choose safe over brave.

To choose comfortable over purposeful.

To choose to keep breathing, but to kind of stop living.

But what a wild thought is this: could the victory be the thing that gets us off the mat?

Could hope be the thing that challenges us to forsake safe and dare to be dangerous?

And don’t we have the victory already?

It was two years ago today, when I said that hard goodbye to my Dad — a heart-heavy see you on the other side.

And I remember the haunting words of that song about Home — the ones that felt like a God-whisper:

The trouble, it might drag you down,
if you get lost, you can always be found…

And I see fresh truth: the troubles we experience in this life can literally drag us down. Pin us to the mat. Convince us it’s okay to stop living and just keep breathing.

I’ve walked that road a time or two.

We can get lost, wandering through those troubles. Grief, and hurt, and heartache — they can be winding paths that feel like labyrinths we can’t find a way out of.

Sometimes the decision not to cry anymore is also a decision not to laugh anymore. Numb is the easy route.

But friends, there is always hope. With God, nothing is impossible. Do you believe that deep down, in your soul?

When the odds seemed completely stacked against us, when the Saviour of the World was crucified, dead and laid in a tomb, when anyone who believed would’ve been sure the Light of the World had been extinguished — and when it seemed like hope was completely foolish — by the power of God, the Spirit of God brought about a Resurrection.


“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” {Romans 8:11}

There is a power at work in us — there is a hope that we can hold onto. Because we are not just the servants of the Crucified King — we are also those who worship the Risen Lord.

There is nothing too hard for God and there is no reason for His children to live pinned to the mat.

Have you let a place in your soul give up and lay down?

Get Back Up.

Have you decided to stick with safe at the expense of stupendous, stellar, spectacular?

Get Back Up.

Is there any place in your heart that has been given to despair?  Or just quietly resigned to the fact that “this is how I’m always gonna feel, and this is how it’s always gonna be?”

Get. Back. Up.

It’s written in Black & White: If His Spirit lives in you, He can give you LIFE.

He came to give you LIFE, and give it to you MORE ABUNDANTLY.

And? He is the way, the truth, and the LIFE.

Troubles might drag you down, but if you get lost, you can ALWAYS be FOUND.

Because you can never be separated from the love of God, poured out for us in Christ Jesus.

Find yourself in Him today, and there you will find the strength — no matter what — to get back up.



— For Missy

Who are the People of the Cross?

It was just a few days before Lent – a season for Christians around the world to humble themselves, focus more deeply with a hope of understanding the message of the Cross – when a “Message Signed With Blood for the People of the Cross” went out. Twenty-one Egyptian Christians were beheaded in a mass killing, intended to be a message to Christians around the world.

Who are the people of the Cross?

When Jesus arrived on the scene some 2,000 years ago, He was rejected by Israel — the very nation He arrived to share the Good News with first.

Israel’s rejection of the Gospel was not a flippant “Mmmm… I don’t think I really like what this Jesus guy is saying” kind of response — His words and His ways were turning their worlds upside down and it was more than they could handle.

While the Jews saw riches as the blessing of the Lord, Jesus told the rich young ruler who approached Him to give it all away and follow Him to find eternal life. (Mark 10)


While the Jews had kept the Passover faithfully for more than a thousand years — this mark and preservation and remembrance of their entire nation being delivered from 400 years of bondage in Egypt — Jesus turned the Passover tradition upside by breaking the bread and saying “I am this bread” and by taking the wine and saying “I am this wine.” This is and always has been symbolic of Me, and I will be broken and poured out for you.

While other rabbis only selected the best of the best who approached them and sought to become their disciples, Jesus was the Rabbi who went out looking for, and chose men every other rabbi would’ve rejected. Men for whom the door of discipleship had long been shut, for whom their religious education was finished, for whom the only open door was continuing in the trade of their fathers before them.

While other rabbis wouldn’t be caught dead teaching a woman, Jesus invited Mary and Martha to sit at His feet and learn from Him.

While those other rabbis prided themselves in the heavy yokes they and their disciples carried for the sake of keeping the law, Jesus said, “Come to me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

While the Jews saw greatness as sitting at the head of the table and being served, Jesus equated greatness with service and said, “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. Even I didn’t come here to be served — I am here to serve and give My life up for many.” {Mark 10:43-45, my paraphrase)

After 1,500 long, heavy years of being identified as the people of God, steeped in tradition and history, carrying the burden of making sure the legacy was passed to the next generation so that their entire race would not be wiped from the face of the Earth — it seemed too much to ask, for the Jews to allow someone to arrive on the scene and turn it all upside down.

It was too counter-cultural. Too radical. Too difficult for those who loved and celebrated tradition and hard work and earning righteousness. How could it be a gift now?

And who are the people of the Cross?

While many of the people of Israel rejected Jesus — to the point that they downright crucified Him — still, a faithful remnant understood Him to be the Messiah, the Christ they’d been looking for, waiting for.

And it all seemed turned upside down again, when they realized Jesus was not just a light to the Jews, but the Savior of the Gentiles as well. He came to seek and save the lost — and there was no one on Earth who didn’t fall into that category.

The Son is the Gift, and together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He is also the Giver.

Today — 2,000 years later — on one end of the Earth Christians are standing up for their faith, at the peril of losing their lives. Thousands of miles away, what could we do to say “I’m in, no matter what. Jesus, You can turn my world upside-down, too.”

Who are the people of the Cross?

What would it mean for Christians on this side of the world to live in solidarity with our faraway brothers and sisters being persecuted, even killed for their faith?

What would it mean for us, the wealthiest, most privileged, most educated, most capable generation of Christians who ever lived to decide we will stand together with the world’s poor, the way Jesus told us to?

What would it mean for us to follow in the footsteps of our Savior, to walk into dark places where people are being abused, women and children are being trafficked, lives are being enslaved, and every ounce of hope seems to be extinguished?

What if we’re not called to keep building comfortable homes and comfortable lives? What if we’re not called to keep finding comfortable jobs with comfortable salaries in comfortable areas where our children can receive an education that will help them stay comfortable too?

Who, who, who are the people of the Cross?

Many of us are going. Many of us are doing. Many of us are laying down comfort and convenience, counting the cost and following a Savior who dove into the darkness to turn on the Light.

But we are capable of so much more. Financially, we are able to eradicate extreme poverty. Yes, truly we are. In this generation.*

Strategically, we have the man power and brain power to stop human trafficking dead in its tracks. We are so incredibly well educated and resourced. This is SO possible.

We can support the widows, care for the orphans, love the least of these fully and wholeheartedly.

We could change the face of the planet.

What should we do in the face of extreme evil? How should we respond, as the people of the Cross?

In the face of evil, we should keep on doing good. Keep on shining light in dark places. Down the street from us, and around the world. To widows. To orphans. In the rough part of the towns we live in, and in the slums of Rio and the townships of South Africa.

What will the world see? And what will the world say?

What will we do with the opportunities in front of us?

How will we say yes to the God who loves us so deeply, so dearly, and still has a mission for us beyond what we are expecting or imagining, for the brief moments we have on this Earth? Will we say yes?

What can we say yes to? What can we say yes to today?

Will we answer the message to the People of the Cross, by choosing to truly be the People of the Cross?

Paul wrote it to the Ephesians nearly 2,000 years ago: Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. {Eph. 5:15-16, NIV}

Let’s respond by making the most of every opportunity, saying yes to the Gift and the Giver — if we are the people of the Cross, we will keep on taking up the Cross, keep on laying down our lives, keep on doing good.







* See Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel, if you’d like to more deeply understand how little we’re doing in comparison to how much we are capable of.  {Available on Amazon: The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World – affiliate link}

If You’re Bumping Your Head Against Christmas

One morning a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stop bumping my head.

Literally, you ask?

Yes, literally.

We normally have a pretty relaxed morning routine around the Collie house — breakfast, coffee, kids play, kids get dressed, middle kid goes to preschool, little one piddles around the house or colors or does puzzles while Mom and the oldest rock the homeschool.

But that particular morning, we were running a little behind on that routine and when we got to preschool, I wasn’t sure if the doors would still be open on the drop-off side, so I walked TigerTank into class instead while the other two waited in the car. Only, TigerTank didn’t want to stay at school when I walked him in. It was probably a combination of a long, long weekend full of fun activities with a special uncle and his girlfriend, who were in town, plus a few nights of getting to stay up more than a little past bedtime with all the holiday excitement surrounding Thanksgiving, plus this one ornament he discovered on the back of an old coloring book that he really wanted to cut out and hang on the tree.

I seriously think he was worried we’d do it without him.

He was so upset, obviously tired, and a hot mess, and I had two kids waiting in the car. I gave up on convincing him to stay at preschool and decided to just bring him home.

We never have an issue like this at the drop-off spot, so the next few mornings, I was extra-eager to get everyone together and into the van to take TigerTank to preschool in a timely fashion, so that we could follow the normal routine and drop him off.

Our house was filled with

Why aren’t you dressed yet!?!

Get your shoes on! C’mon!

Where is your book bag, for goodness sake!?!?


If you want to come, you have to come now. We are leaving now.

Oh, the world of hurt that we could avoid if we never tried to hurry.

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I hurried. And plopped a baby girl still in PJs into her car seat, and scurried round the van to squeeze buckles around a toddler’s puffy winter coat.

And that’s when I whacked my head — hurrying to get into the van and get the kid buckled. I didn’t coordinate my entry into the van and the step up to reach into the back and buckle the kid.


Oh my stars, it hurt. My head throbbed throughout the drive to preschool.

Perhaps less than an hour later, I was trying to hurry my way through a Math lesson. It was a simple review lesson that I wanted to just hurry through so we could move on to “more important” things.

The Belle was piddling around, and found a little box of dominoes, which she promptly opened up, and turned over, meaning Dominoes spilled everywhere.

I huffed with frustration at the kid who didn’t want to move through the math lesson at my pace and the baby who wanted to get into everything.

I bent down under the table to pick up some dominoes and bang — I whacked my head. Yes, again.

And oh my stars, it hurt. Again.

After the second bump, I slowed down to think about what was going on. Like old Rafiki told Simba, The past can hurt, but you either run from it, or learn from it.

Since I didn’t want to bump my ahead again, I decided to pay attention.

A week later, I was still thinking. I can be a slow learner.

But here’s one conclusion:

I have an idea in my mind about what’s important.

That idea is often wrong.

I was rushing through getting the kids in the car to keep in time with my agenda for the day. And I was rushing through that Math lesson because I had a Christmas agenda and I wanted to get on with it. We had a library trip planned that afternoon and I wanted to bring our friends at the library cookies.

Sure, showing people you appreciate them is good, and thoughtful at this time of year. But is it more important than loving my kids, and handling them in a way that shows them that they matter, that they have value, and they are more important than how I feel if I have to arrive somewhere late?

Is getting the kids into the car to get them there on time more important than slowing down and looking them in the eyes and telling them you love them before sending them out into the world?

We’re here, Christmas is nearly here — and we’re celebrating the coming. And what does this coming mean? Before Jesus came, a few things were holy, a lot of things were common, and some were downright unholy.

But what did Paul say? Whether you eat or drink — whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.

I bump my head when I fail to remember: this too, can be for the glory of God.

Sweeping streets or building cathedrals: it all has potential for glory.

This is the Good News: Ready or Not, He comes.

Will we make room? Be a space that welcomes the unexpectedly glorious?

We don’t need to be in a hurry. We don’t need to have everything prepared. Nothing we do or leave undone will change the fact that Jesus has come, He does come, and He will come again.

When we’re bumping our heads, He comes to remind us to slow down, enjoy the moments we’re given instead of hurrying through them to get to the next thing.

His glorious goodness arrives into the humble Bethlehem stables of our souls. And He whispers the truth we so desperately need to hear in our brokenness:

God is with us. Though we fail and fall short. Though we hurry and fuss and holler at our kids. Though we get angry in traffic. Though we’re selfish, prideful, and pretty much a mess.

God-with-us comes to find us. Comes to do for us what we can’t do ourselves.

Grace to be still. Grace to keep going. He comes with great grace.

And the whole incredible story starts so small, like a single candle being lit, one tiny flame growing brighter.

Like one tiny little baby being born in a remote corner of the world.

Be still for a moment, friends. Expect to see Him in unexpected places. Take a deep breath, be ready to make room. Let the good news that your performance isn’t make-or-break soak in.

Soak in this: He is the Gift from the Giver Who Keeps on Giving, and He is with us.

Merry Christmas.



She Was Born in a Barn

Story has it my grandmother, born this very day almost a hundred years ago, was born in a barn. It was so cold that night, the pail of water they had nearby was frozen. I faintly remember her telling me the story when I was a child. I think long and hard about that arrival, the second daughter, to be followed by a son.

No matter where a person gets started, there’s really no telling where they’re going.

I don’t know the story of my grandfather, the one who gave my Dad his last name and not much else. They married young, she was pregnant fast and it was just too much. My six month old Dad — I’ve read letters that he was bright-eyed, happy and brown as a berry. That’s a complement in the South. Whatever he was, it wasn’t enough for his Dad to stay.

He took off, wrote letters here and there, sent a gift here and there, but started a new family halfway across the country. I met him for the first time, and felt incredibly uncomfortable, at age 12. My Dad picked me up from school to have lunch with him. I don’t remember asking many questions, except if I could go and get my peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of the car.

Sometimes Dads don’t stick around.

Enough times it happens, that some call it an epidemic for this generation: Fatherlessness. They say it’s at the root of so many other issues, and I agree: Men who choose not to be present, not to be fathers, to children that are rightfully theirs.

But there’s another story.

There’s this other barn — this place where the animals stayed, 2,000 years ago and halfway around the world.

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I imagine him there, holding the hand of this frightened young girl, who understands something miraculous is happening and she is a part of the story — but does he really know? When the shepherds arrive? When the Wise Men bring gifts? Does he see the star, too?

What will become of this baby, born in a barn?

No matter where a person gets started, there’s really no telling where they’re going.

This was a place where a man decided to do the opposite of what so many do — he said, “This baby isn’t mine. But I’ll stay, I’ll be present. I’ll be the father here on earth.”

From the very beginning, this is the Gospel that turns our upside down world rightside up.

In a world where fewer and fewer men are staying when they should, God’s story shows a man of character who stands in the gap and stays, when the world might say he shouldn’t.

In a world where teen pregnancy is a hushed and shushed troublesome issue, God chooses to birth Someone miraculous.

I wonder what rumors floated around. And I wonder — if this couple was from Bethlehem, did they have no family there still to stay with? Or were the people there unwilling to welcome them in? An indictment in a culture so renowned for hospitality, what was at the root of this — the woman about to have a baby being given room at the barn?

He was born in a tiny corner of the Roman Empire, which stretched further than it ever had before, or has since, so that it was called Terraram orbis imperium — the Empire of the Whole Earth.

This is the story for the whole Earth, turning rightside up the upside down ways of the whole earth.

Giving fathers to the fatherless.

Did he come from wealthy parents? Would the shepherds find him in the finest home in Bethlehem wearing the nicest robes a baby could wear? No — he arrived to parents so poor they could not afford to make room for themselves, promptly wrapped in swaddling cloths, perhaps best translated as torn and tattered rags, with a feeding trough for a crib.

Was he born into a reigning kingdom? No — to a people, now recently subjugated to Roman rule, so that he was rather less like a citizen and rather more like a subject of whom tribute would be required.

Not even born in the great city of Jerusalem, where the kings of Judea long presided? No — in humble Bethlehem, The House of Bread, comes the Bread of Life. From the City of David, as it was also known, from the lineage of David, came the humble servant who is the King of Kings.

Jesus — the name means God saves. Emmanuel — God with us.

God is with us — and He saves.

And nothing about the story seems like the story most of the world would write for the arrival of the King of Kings.

In fact, it mostly seems like the opposite.

We craned our necks to see what Kate might be wearing on her wedding day, the day she became royalty. And the magazines follow the little prince George. What is he wearing, where is he traveling? What a glorious future awaits an earthly future king!

But this is the story of the King who left all the perfection of heaven to come to a humble birth on Earth. A peasant, a tribute and tax paying subject. A babe the world wouldn’t make room for. Who came not to be served but to serve.

This upsidedownrightsideup story is just so beautiful — so gloriously different from what the world expected, which makes it infinitely better.

You might still be hustling and bustling with gift lists and parties — your list longer than a strand of Christmas lights, filled with things to do.

But know that the Savior of the world came to do the things we couldn’t: and we can rest in the receiving of this, our Greatest Gift.

The striving can cease. That most important, eternal thing that needed doing has already been done.

Let Him whisper words of rest to your hearts today friends. In the stilling and the listening, you’re being the people who make room for the most unlikely King.



The Christmas You Might Be Looking For

“A little more tree… a little more snow…
a couple more reindeer, a couple more bows.
Another dozen cookies just in case the neighbors show…
A little more joy, for Christmas.”

Last weekend, my favorite football team was playing, and with my brother in town, it was certain that we would all be watching. The game was only being televised on ESPN-U (or maybe it was ESPN-3, I can’t remember which), but that meant we were streaming the game live over the internet.

Now if you’ve ever watched live content on the internet, you may have had the (mis)fortune of one interesting discovery: sometimes, one or two advertisers purchase all of the commercial slots for that live broadcast, and you will watch the. same. commercial. again. and again. and again.

And for us, this game?

It was Walmart.

And that little jingle I just typed out from memory up there? We heard it about thirty-seven times. At least. And it keeps going – a couple more verses about getting just a little bit more packed into the holiday season.

But it was only the next day, when it was still swirling in my head, that I considered the meaning behind the message.

It’s the message we get every day, from sometime in October when the decorations first start emerging, until some point in the New Year when they get heavily discounted and disappear.

Walmart is saying what most retailers want us to believe: you will find the joy you’re looking for this season when you find the perfect gifts, the perfect decorations, the perfect activities, and the perfect accessories for your holiday. That’s how to make your holiday season perfect…right?

I think you know the answer to that question, but let’s keep chatting.


A Saturday later, my Mom, the kids and I strolled down to the Christmas parade in our wee town for the first time ever. They gushed with smiles as they filled hands with candy, waved at the floats and motorcycles, the bands and the people all strolling by. There was red and green, there were elves, jingle bells and music, and Santa finished it all off, waving proudly from his perch atop a shiny fire truck.

It was fun and we smiled and laughed and enjoyed the moment.

As soon as that grand finale fire truck had passed us by, we turned to head back to the car. But before we’d taken a step, my eldest, always quick to speak his mind, piped up very indignantly:

Wait! How come Jesus wasn’t in the parade? Because that’s the whole thing about Christmas anyway.

I was speechless. I hadn’t prompted this question. I’m dead honest when I say it didn’t once occur to me.

We came to a Christmas parade, but he was frustrated because he didn’t find Jesus.

And isn’t that sometimes what happens? And the way I’ve sometimes felt when I’ve arrived at Christmas morning? I’m surprised I hustled and bustled and thought about gifts and decorations and events and planning and lights, but I’ve always felt just a little bit empty because I didn’t spend very much time with Him, or even really deeply thinking about Him.

We can come to the Christmas season, and leave frustrated because we don’t really find Jesus here.

When we got home from the parade, among the pencils and lollipops and Hershey kisses spilled onto the counter, I found a candy cane with a note attached. I hurried to show it to the Bear. The note explained the symbolism of this simple piece of candy — the red stripes for the Saviour who shed His blood for us, white, because He was sinless and pure, and the “J” shape for Jesus, which, turned around, becomes a staff, to represent our good Shepherd, the Lord.

We found Jesus there — just a glimmer of a glimpse of Jesus to ponder — but we had to look for Him.

The big tree and the extra snow and the extra reindeer and the big bows? They might be what makes you feel like you’re “Christmasing” again.

But the acts of kindness, the selfless service, the generosity to the “least of these” and, yes, even a thoughtful piece of candy passed to a child in a parade — these are places where you’ll find a heart like Christ’s.

This is the place where you find the people who are saying The greatest gift has already been given, and I’ve received it. It’s my turn to give gifts to the One born in the manger, the One born to be a gift for the whole world to unwrap.

This is the Hope that has come and does come and will come again — the Christmas we can look for, because He’s always been looking for us.