December 11, 2012

God with Us

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, 
which means, "God with us." 
~Matthew 1:23

I wonder what it would have been like to have been there long ago on that quiet, starlit night when the Word became flesh and the Savior of the world was born.  What would I have felt, what would I have done, in the presence of the One who left the glory of heaven to dwell among us, to be with us?

I imagine I would have stayed back in the quiet, dark shadows of the stable, humbled by and in awe of the incarnation, of witnessing God made flesh.  I'm certain I wouldn't be able to speak for how could there be words adequate to express the fullness and depth of my heart at such a sight.  Love and joy and gratitude would overcome me and the tears... oh, how the tears would fall.  Moved by worship and adoration, I'd come slowly from the shadows to bow before the manger and gaze upon the beauty and majesty of the Light of the world.  I would kneel at his side and take the long-awaited child, the One who came to redeem us, to redeem me, and cradle him in my arms and hold him tightly to my chest.  Tears would fall like rain from my face to stain the precious cheeks of his.  What honor to behold the Lamb of God.  The Hope of the world.  The King of Kings.  Our Savior and Redeemer.  Emmanuel, God with us.

He was and is with us.

Even still.

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love... not that we loved God, but that he loved us
 and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 
~1 John 4:9-10

"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 
~Matthew 28:20

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." 
~John 1:14

(I'm linking up today with "Tuesdays Unwrapped" at


December 2, 2012

A Merry Mess

The Christmas season has begun and though I would like to say I'm ready for it, fabulously organized and on top of things, finished with my shopping, and completely decorated with my home looking exactly like my Christmas board on Pinterest, I cannot.  Sadly, that would be far, far from the truth.  The truth instead looks more like this...

...boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations scattered around my home.

...a Christmas tree put up a week ago that begs for at least a single ornament to adorn its lovely branches.

...tiny little pine needles scattered here, there, and everywhere, all throughout our home.

...last night's dirty dishes in the kitchen sink including the pan of brownies I burnt before rushing out the door to our first holiday party of the season.

...clean laundry waiting to be folded and dirty laundry piled high waiting to be washed.

...craft and decorating projects started that wait to be completed and take up almost every inch of my kitchen and dining room tables, not to mention the kid's air hockey table.

...a storage closet I can hardly step inside because I've crammed it full of gifts and Christmas packages the UPS man delivered so my children won't see them.

Bathrooms need cleaned.  Floors need swept.  Furniture needs dusted.  Gifts need bought and gifts need wrapped.  Cookies need baked.  Christmas cards need addressed… and it's all just too much.  My home is an absolute, out-of-control mess.

And yet it's simply the most wonderful thing.

Wonderful because it reminds me of what is most important and it isn't a perfect home, a perfect Christmas, or a perfect me.  And wonderful because there's something incredibly liberating about things falling apart and coming undone… of letting go and letting be.

I woke up early this morning and as I maneuvered around boxes and piles to head to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, I took in the crazy mess of my home and had to laugh.  I laughed at the magnitude and sheer size of the disaster I'd created, and laughed at the glorious disruption of being completely disorganized and overwhelmed and of losing control. I marveled at how far I've come... at how much God has and is healing me from needing and striving to be perfect, from having to have it all together and be in control.  And after I had a good laugh, I didn't quickly set about cleaning up the mess, but instead snuggled up in a cozy chair with a steaming cup of coffee and thanked Jesus for all he has done and is doing in my heart.  I thanked him for the beautiful, liberating, redemptive, merry mess because it's oh so very good for my heart.

As I move into the hectic and sometimes stressful Christmas season, there are a few thoughts I'm hanging on to and keeping before me.  They help me keep perspective and help to loosen my grasp on creating and being responsible for the perfect Christmas.  They alone are a gift to my heart and I hope they will be to yours as well...

Let it go.

Let it be.

Lay it down.

It can't be done.

Be and keep being...

A week or two later, the merry mess is gone, the house is fully decorated, and peace and order have come once again to the Barker home.

~I'm linking up today with "Tuesdays Unwrapped" at

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