A Son Is Given

Firstborns are special.

I say that not because I am a firstborn but because of how I felt when I held my first child.

I remember that nervous yet exhilarating feeling of having his tiny little body placed into my arms for the very first time.  He was wrapped up tight in a blanket and I was undone.  The depth of my love for him was so intense and so immediate; it took me by surprise.  Suddenly, and almost without warning, I realized I would do anything for this child of mine.  Not only had I given birth, but something had been birthed inside of me.  A desire to love and protect this little life at any cost.

I imagine that Mary felt the same way.  Although she didn’t have an adjustable bed and big fluffy pillows behind her as she drank in the first few hours of her son’s life, I can imagine she felt those same feelings of intense love and fierce devotion.

Parental love—and fear—is an authentic and tangible universal language.

I can’t help but wonder how Mary managed those fears as she watched her little boy mature into a young man.  I wonder if she lost sleep worrying about him and his future.  I wonder if she ever felt not enough at times, questioning whether she was equipped for the monumental task of motherhood.  All of her time, energy and love poured out into this life that would ultimately lay itself down for us all.

The precious gift she had been given would eventually be a gift for all mankind.  A gift of love, quite literally, as 1 John tells us that “God IS love.”

In our earthly understanding of love, one of our best representations is that between mother and child.  It is bond so strong that it gives us a small glimpse into the immeasurable depth of love that God has for each of us.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 3 that he prays that we will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is.

We serve a God who gives us small daily reminders of that love.  From a child’s laugh to the warmth of a loved one’s hand, these are reflections of His love for us.  As we gather this holiday season with family and friends may we sense, more deeply, the greatness of Christ’s love for us.  May we catch another glimpse of the height and depth of His love and may it secure within us a sense of trust so we can walk in confidence of the love He has, not only for us, but also for the world.


A prayer:  Father, we thank You today for the gift of Your Son.  We thank You for the blessings You have given us in the form of our children.  Father, continue to teach us more about Your love.  Help us to walk in the love You have for us, and helps us give that same love to those around us.  We acknowledge that our confidence comes from being secure in the immeasurable love You have for each of us. 

A Child is Born

Is there anything more exciting than the news of a baby being born?

As I am typing this, my sister-in-law is in labor.  She’s having baby number three today.  I have checked my phone every five minutes for the last hour just waiting for the call or text to announce her arrival.  Although the days leading up to the delivery have been long and hard for her (chasing a three-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old around the house while maneuvering a protruding belly and holding down a full-time job), I know that the minute the baby arrives she will gaze into that sweet face and everything else will melt away.

Why?  Because babies are a celebration of life, love, and new beginnings.  They signal a new chapter about to be written in the family’s story.  They usher in a sense of awe, gratefulness, and hope.  Babies are the culmination of creation, pointing us back to our ultimate Creator.  There is something so perfect about a newborn.  New life has a way of rallying us all together to celebrate, connecting our hearts and our lives in a powerfully unique way.

And so it was for the shepherds who found their way to baby Jesus all those years ago.  The setting looked a bit different than our modern-day hospital rooms and birthing centers, but the palpable excitement that settled over that stable was undeniable.  THIS good news, THIS new life, was not just for a few gathered around the manger, but was instead for all mankind, for all eternity.  It was for you.  For me.  For every person that is yet to be.

Baby Jesus was the good news that would bring great joy for all the people! This baby wrapped up in swaddling clothes would usher in a thrill of hope like nothing the world had ever seen or heard before.  I can’t help but believe that the shepherds, as they shared in the celebration, began to feel something give way: in their hearts, in their lives, in the very air that they were breathing.  An expectancy, an anticipation, a feeling that somehow this was what they had been waiting for their entire lives.  A feeling that something was about to shift and, with it, the potential to change not only their lives but also the lives of every generation to come.  Our salvation, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

A prayer: Father, pervade our hearts with the same expectancy that the shepherds felt all those years ago.  Fill us with a thrill of hope for all that YOu are and all that You have yet planned for us.  Today we believe again for the dreams You have placed inside of us.  God, help us learn to trust Your heart and to trust Your timing.  Thank you Father, that You were then and You are still, our good news.  Amen. 

Good Gifts

I still remember the Christmas when I received one of my favorite gifts ever as a child.

We had just finished opening presents and my brothers and sister and I were on clean up detail.  First, we set to work gathering all our treasures into individual piles. All discarded plastic packaging went into a giant black garbage bag, but all the gift bags, ribbons, and bows (sometimes even wrapping paper if it was in decent shape) was salvaged for use again the following year.  There were years when I would retrieve a gift from under the tree and spend the next several minutes trying to decipher whose it was. Usually, three or four different names had been written down in various ink colors and then crossed off.  My mom got a lot of mileage out of her gift bags. Oddly enough, I married into a family that does this same thing.

We were almost done cleaning when my dad nonchalantly mentioned that Santa brought one more gift for me and it was waiting in the basement. I bolted down the stairs to discover my very own kitchen play set, complete with a sink, microwave, refrigerator, and oven. To this day I can remember the excitement I felt realizing my parents had given me the perfect gift.

Countless hours were spent downstairs, pretending to whip up delicious food, wash the dishes, and stock the fridge after grocery shopping. In fact, that kitchen set moved outside for an entire summer the year my siblings and I acted out the Boxcar Children books. Those were the days when parents would shove their children out the door in the morning and expect them to entertain themselves. There was usually the opportunity for re-entry sometime around noon for lunch, and then again at supper time. But for the most part, we spent that summer entertaining ourselves and pretending to live in a boxcar. I have so many wonderful memories connected to that play kitchen.

That Christmas I was given a great gift.

One of the greatest things about a good gift is that it’s given willingly and nothing is expected in return. My parents knew I was going to love that play kitchen and they wanted to give it to me without any payment on my part. There was nothing that I had to do on my end other than to accept it. Their desire was to give me a good gift simply because they loved me.

God does the same, only better.

He extends gifts like salvation, patience, peace, joy, wisdom, and comfort. He gives remarkable gifts to us because of His great love for us. We need only accept them.

Today, may we remember that although earthly gifts are good and can even hold wonderful memories for us, there is nothing that comes close to the gift of Jesus.

A prayer: Thank you, God, that you extend Your gift of salvation to us with no strings attached. Thank you that we don’t have to wonder whether the gift is for us. Your gift of salvation is clearly marked for each of us. You desire to give us good gifts simply because You love us.  Thank you again for Your perfect gifts. Amen. 

Advent Devo: Unto Us

Unto us. These two small words introduce us to God’s plan for mankind’s redemption story. Though they are small in length, they stand tall in meaning and shout wildly with joy, declaring the coming of our King. Unto you. Unto me. Unto us.


“For a child has been born – for us! the gift of a son – for us! Isaiah 9:6 (The Message)

A Wonderful Counselor for us.

A Mighty God for us.

An Everlasting Father for us.

 A Prince of Peace for us.


Every title, name, and promise, wrapped up in one tiny package and gently placed in a feeding trough. Our redemption waits for us in a manger.

Amidst a season of rushing and scrambling to find that perfect gift for a loved one, we are reminded again that the greatest gift anyone could ever possibly receive has already been given. The gift of our Savior in the form of a baby. Just like bringing home a newborn causes us to slow down, to take a break from our frantic pace and embrace the miracle of new life, this advent season also invites us to halt our hectic lives and take a moment to simply embrace Jesus.

Let the gift of who He is settle over you today. The Mighty God came for you. His plan included you because his heart is for you. Whether you’ve already accepted this gift or you’re just beginning to unwrap the depth of His love for you, salvation and rest are available to you today in Christ.

During this Advent season, we will be taking some time to look at the amazing promises that have been given unto us through Jesus. From His royal titles to His faithful promises, each of a prized possession passed down to us from a loving Father. Let’s prepare our hearts and wait on Him as we look forward with anticipation to the celebration of Christmas and the gift of God’s one and only Son, Jesus.

“For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace.” His ever expanding peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world.  This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated himself to do it!” Isaiah 9:6,7 (TLB) 

Mothering: a holy work

Mothering is something that God invites all of his daughters to participate in.

Mothering is a selfless act.  When we mother someone, we are giving them our protective care and kindness.  It involves looking after someone else’s needs, providing for them and lending support. Mothering is nurturing something in someone else.  It’s giving a piece of ourselves to someone else.  So while we may not all be mothers (noun) we are all called to participate in the act of mothering (noun, adj.).  

Mothering is done in nuclear families and mixed, with the neighbors across the street and with nieces and nephews.  Mothering can be done with co-workers, friends, even the children of our friends.  Mothering extends across social and economic boundaries, it crosses personal beliefs and distances.  It cuts through barriers and connects our hearts to another.

For a stay at home mom with young kids, it looks a lot like tending to the daily physical and emotional needs of their littles.  It’s the TLC they give when their child falls and scrapes a knee and the late night rocking back to sleep.  It’s a lack of time for yourself because you’ve given it to another.  It’s selfless and exhausting and holy.

Mothering my daughter, now 13, looks different than it did when she was little.  Instead of kisses and band aids, she needs me to listen to her, to pay attention to what is important to her.  She needs me to lead in example more than ever before, because she’s looking to me to see if I’m being authentic, to see if what I say and how I live, truly line up.  It’s intentional and hard at times. It’s also holy.

When we were youth pastors, and I was surrounded daily by amazing teenage girls, I found they craved acceptance.  They just wanted to know that they were loved and accepted for who they were.  They needed to hear, “You are enough, just as you are.”  I loved my girls and worked hard to be honest and real with them.  Over time, we built trust with one another and it gave me the unique position to be able to speak truth into their lives.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was mothering even then, long before we decided to have kids of our own.

Sometimes mothering involves calling something out in someone else.  Highlighting something special in their life that maybe they don’t have the vantage point or perspective to see yet. It can be something as simple as stating what they are good at, or what you see in them that you admire.  Sometimes, the Holy Spirit breathes on those simple words and it’s like the oxygen needed to fan the flames and bring a thing, a decision, a person, to life.

Mothering can sometimes feel mundane, but it is always holy.

If you look up synonyms for the word mothering, here’s a few of the words that will come up:  Cherish, care for, nurture, rear, nurse, tend, bring forth, produce, bear, inspire, reproduce, cure, heal, remedy…and the list goes on.  Nothing short of holy work.

Some of us are mothers, but all of us are doing the holy work of mothering. And today, (and every day) I honor you.

For those of you who are experiencing a loss this Mother’s Day, whether it’s grieving the loss of a child, the hope of one, or perhaps the expectation of what you thought motherhood would be like, I pray God would send someone to mother you during this difficult season.

Philippians 2:1-4 says this: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility values others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others.”  Paul is basically saying here that if we have experienced the comfort and tenderness of God’s love for us, then we ought to follow His example and do the same.  We should pour into others this same love and tenderness that we have been shown.

We have been authorized and empowered to carry out this holy work.

The reason we can mother well, is because Jesus is our example.  We have experienced encouragement from Him, we have felt comfort from His love and we have felt His tender compassion towards us. He is our example in all things, even in mothering.

I pray today that you would experience his love and comfort in a personal way and that it would spur you on to share it with those around you.  Mothering is a hard and holy work, but you were made for it!