The past few weeks we’ve been learning a Remember Verse with the students I teach. It’s one of my favorites at Christmas time. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

One of the things I have loved the most in teaching this is helping the kids grasp the enormity of God’s plan as he revealed this. Not just pieces of his plan, but seeing the fullness of his plan. We look at the beginning of the verse to understand it’s God the Father sending his son, Jesus. It’s such a great verse to ponder over during the Christmas season. Then we pause and look at where this verse is found. Isaiah. I then ask the kids if that’s Old or New Testament. They now recognize this is in the Old Testament which means this verse was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

It shows me that God had a plan. He had a good plan that included his son. You see, God Created. In the beginning, God created all and said it was GOOD. And Jesus was part of it.

The opening verses of John remind me of this:

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:1-5)

v:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… v:14 The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, FULL of grace and truth.”

He didn’t have to come to earth. He had a plan though. God revealed himself to the Israelites. He gave the law, not to provide law itself, but to show his love. So that we would know him, honor him, love him, desire to be with him.

We made a choice, as his creation, to turn from him way back in the garden. We were separated from him because of our choice. But he had a plan. A plan to love us. A plan to restore us. A plan to redeem us.

And we didn’t choose his plan.

We kept doing things our way. In our time. AND he still loved us. Still revealed himself to us; out of His abundance of love.

He is slow to anger, slow to judgement, giving us time to know him, time to love him.

He was silent for a moment. There was 400 years of silence where he didn’t speak through any prophets or reveal any miracles.

Then God quietly began to reveal his plan. On a hillside, out away from the crowds, away from the affluent, away from the “religious” leaders.


God didn’t just give a piece of his love. He didn’t just give a little of Himself. He poured all his power and majesty and love into this world through his son Jesus. Fully contained in the human form so he would know. So he could sympathize not just in part, but in whole.

Even though that human body died on a cross, love did not. Love conquered death. Love rose stronger. Love remains. Not in pieces, but in whole. And it’s here for us today. WE can still choose to turn from the wrong things we do, we can ask for forgiveness, we can ask to know him. Not just with part of our lives, not just with pieces, but with all our lives. We can love with not just part of our love, but with all our love.

Because He doesn’t give us just part of his heart. He doesn’t give us his leftover pieces.

Do we do that to him? Do we just offer back our leftover pieces? Do we wait to come to him at some point when we have all of our pieces fixed and figured out? Do we get so busy or feel so broken that we remain in pieces, keeping them to ourselves? Or do we think that somehow we must put ourselves together perfectly before we come to him?

He loves all your pieces. He’s the one who wants to step in and put your pieces together, perfectly, and love all of you, with his fullness.

So let us remember this Christmas, as we recall the birth of Jesus long ago, he came as love, as light, in full. And he satisfied our debt, in full.  And now, when Jesus looks on us, he doesn’t love just parts of us. Pieces of us. He loves all of us. All the time. We can trust in that.

Don’t let what feels like broken pieces in you hold you back from the one who longs to restore, renew, and pour in full love.


Anticipation of Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve. Even the words evoke so many memories made and the anticipation of new ones. I fondly recall many late night Christmas Eves when my children were little. Getting cookies set out, reading the Christmas story, pictures in pjs around the Christmas tree. Then after they were tucked snugly in bed the frenzy would begin. Wrapping the rest of the presents, finishing the baking, then cleaning the mess of it all. I was usually done around 1 am, just in time for Mass from St Peter’s Basillica to come on the television. I loved that moment. Exhausted, but everything was prepared for my family and I had a moment to sit. Sit in anticipation of what the day would bring. Sit in appreciation that somehow it had all come together. Sit in awe of Jesus, come to earth.

I’m a bit older now, a bit more prepared, a bit more practiced. It’s Christmas eve morning. The presents have been wrapped for two weeks, the house is clean, the treats all baked. My oldest son will here tonight (and probably will refuse pictures around the tree). I’m on staff at a church now, so I get to be an active participant in our Christmas Eve services, rather than listening to a catholic tradition on the tv. I still feel anticipation, appreciation, and awe.

I’m taking a few moments before the busyness of the day kicks in. I read the Christmas story in Luke. I have some music on. I find myself getting lost in these lyrics from Bethel Music:

What can I do for You

What can I bring to You

What kind of song would You like me to sing

‘Cause I’ll dance a dance for You

Pour out my love to You

What can I do for You, beautiful King


‘Cause I can’t thank You enough

‘Cause I can’t thank You enough

I’m filled with anticipation for the services tonight, for the day with family and friends tomorrow, for the plans He has for me in the New Year. The lyrics though remind me to sit in worship of Him. To find that stillness now, to focus on the peace and joy that was brought to earth all those years ago, to focus on gratitude for Him. I can’t even find all the right words to say thank you. I feel like I need to do something to show my love, my faith. I need to be better, be stronger, share my faith more. A bit of anxiety starts to mix in with the anticipation. And then rest of the lyrics just get me. He takes me to that still place with Him:

Then I hear you saying to me

Listen, you don’t have to do a thing

Just simply be with me

and let those things go

‘Cause they can wait another minute

Wait, this moment is too sweet

Would you please stay here, here with me

And love on me a little longer


I hear you sayingIMG_9879

You don’t have to do a thing

Just simply be with me

and let those things go

‘Cause they can wait another minute

Wait, this moment is too sweet

Would you please stay here, here with me

And love on me a little longer


’cause I like to be with you a little longer


I’m letting go and sitting in the stillness with Him.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

**lyrics from Bethel Music, “A Little Longer”

Redemption of the Season

The holiday season is busy. Understatement, right. Even for those of us who have cut back on the schedule, there still seems to be a pressure that hangs in the air. Do more, buy more, be more. Even though I shopped early, set my boundaries, and planned my calendar, I’m still feeling overwhelmed.

My goal was to be able to enjoy the Christmas season. But here I am: a heavy heart, full of anxiety, and once again just feeling like I’m not enough. Feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I didn’t give enough attention to my kids, enough time to relationships, enough stuff to the people on my shopping lists.

I know in my head that this is not what the Christmas season is about. But my heart hurts, none the less. I feel like I’ve made too many mistakes. Maybe next year will be better, so I’ll just count this as one of the down, not so great years. I’ll just survive these next few weeks until life returns to “normal” because it’s too late to redeem this season.

That’s exactly what Christmas is about though. Redemption. Redeeming all that was wrong, all that was distant, all that was lost. Over 2000 years ago redemption came in the form of a tiny baby. God showed His love and mercy over and over again to His people, His holy set-apart chosen people. Yet again and again they chose their own ways, formed their own idols, followed the people of their own choosing. Even still, God loved His people. He wanted to dwell with them. He established covenants making promises to His people and dwelled among them in the Holy of Holies. The people still rejected Him over and over again. Yet He still wanted to be even closer. He wanted to live with His people, so He sent a piece of Himself to this Earth. Not to condemn people and set them apart from Himself, but to restore the distance.   To not only tell us but to show us how great His love is. To offer the final sacrifice for our disobedience, not to call out our disobedience, but to restore us from it. To redeem us. To buy us back from our lives of complacency apart from Him.

We still need that today. I still need that today. There is nothing I have done so wrong that the mercy of Heaven can not heal. Can’t redeem. Even the darkness of some days will be redeemed by God for something good. I trust that. I trust Him. I trust His power to redeem.

I’m going to put my focus there for the next few weeks. This season isn’t about me, what I do, or who I feel I’ve let down. For me, it’s about rediscovering the joy and wonder of that act long ago. Redemption, come to earth, to save even me.