When God Took on Flesh: Christmas–and Last Wednesday

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In my church lifegroup, we have been discussing Advent; and one thing that has continually come up is the humility in which God came to man.

If anyone had the right to come with power and authority, blazing in the sky, demanding we pay attention to him—well, it would be God. The one who spoke the universe into being with a word, the one who created us…became a baby. Laid in straw, surrounded by animals, with lowly shepherds as the first heralds of his birth. The humility of that, that God lowered himself to cast aside any barriers of fear—so no one could feel too worthless or too low or too poor to approach Jesus.

Amazing. This is the God who took on flesh—a precious invitation, not a demand—so we could all draw near.

Then I realized: God had taken on flesh again—in my life, particularly last Wednesday. With a couple of tough days, I had begun to feel alone and isolated. When I have bad days, it is hard for me to feel God—to sense his presence, to hear his voice, to find comfort in him. I try, I do; but that cut-off feeling often remains.

I had begun asking God for people to initiate deeper relationship with me, so that I would not feel so alone. And it wasn’t until last Wednesday night, as I was talking to my mom, when she said: “It sounds like he did that today.” And I stopped, and I thought—and it hit me.

At a time when I couldn’t feel God, at a time I couldn’t find comfort in him, he once again took on flesh. He sent three specific people to reach into my life that day.

One was a message from a friend I haven’t seen in 20 years, asking how he could pray for me.

One was a fellow-LPC Intern who said, “Let’s get coffee and talk today,” and we did.

One was a friend from college who wrote me that day and said, “Let’s do lunch soon!”

And I realized: God answered my prayer. Not just the prayer for relationships, but the prayer to feel his love. While I was unable to connect with him, he sent three people–in addition to family and others who bless me–to be his representatives that day. And in those interactions, I heard him: “You are not alone. And even if you can’t feel my presence, I’m going to send three people to make sure you know: you are loved; I Am with you; and I care enough to send people to tell you that.”

Once again, the humility of this—God has every right to wait around until I can feel him again. He could demand I try harder, tell me to have more faith; he could be impatient with my ‘weakness.’ But instead, just like Christmas, he showed initiating love. He drew near and met me where I was—he became God in flesh, humble enough to comfort and love me through others.


So I leave you with a couple of thoughts: Are there times God has taken on flesh in your life lately? And how can we reach out and be God-in-flesh to others? Let’s not forsake the privilege of being the hands and feet—and love-representatives—of God.


Why Thanksgiving is Stressful to Me–and Why it’s Worth It

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I’m going to be honest here: Thanksgiving has often been stressful for me.

Maybe that sounds awful, but I have determined to write hard and clear about what is true. I also say it because I wonder if some of you feel the same way–and if maybe we could help each other by having an honest conversation about it.

Thanksgiving is often held at our house, so that means the day starts off with frantic cleaning and vacuuming. It means rushing to make sure the pies get ready, and other food is cooked, and that the oven is clear for when family arrives and needs to heat things up. So, just to be honest, even before the Thanksgiving meal starts, I’m already feeling stressed and hurried.

And family—family arrives. There is hustle and bustle, and hugs and “Happy Thanksgiving!” There is too little room in the kitchen, too much food being set out, and over a dozen people all talking at once.

Please let me be clear: I love my family. I love them very much. But I am an introvert, and sometimes when everyone is around, and the room gets noisy and crowded, I have had a tendency to shrink into myself—I get overwhelmed easily. And particularly in the past, when I would feel depressed on Thanksgiving, I would draw back and become blank-faced; and the idea of having to interact with anyone as though I wasn’t dying to crawl back into bed…well, it was stressful.

So this is my background for Thanksgiving. I long ago realized that I associate it with stress, so even when things are calmer and I am not depressed, there’s still part of my mind and body that tenses up when it’s time to go into Thanksgiving.

That’s what happened this year. Wednesday night, thinking about the next day—well, part of me was dreading it.

And you know what? The day started the same: cleaning, running around, getting everything in order; rolling out pie crusts, timing the oven cooking order, occasional frustration. And then family came, and cue the filling-up of the kitchen, setting out of food, chattering conversation. Throughout the day more family arrived, until at one time, I couldn’t walk anywhere without dodging 14 people and loud conversations. We squished into one room, watched the Cowboys lose, and talked and bantered. I was exhausted by the end of the day when the last of the family left at 8:00 PM.

And do you know what? As long and tiring as the day was, as stressed as my little introverted self felt occasionally – it was all so worth it.

It is the moments I remember now: smiling and laughing with my aunt as I stirred gravy; listening as family members mentioned what they were thankful for; joking about how my dad wouldn’t let me add nutmeg to the pumpkin pie recipe. It was sitting next to my grandmother and kissing her cheek and saying how glad I was that she was there with us that day; it was my granddad laughing as my sister and I forced him into a selfie with us. It was hugging my two ‘baby’ boy cousins who now tower over me, and talking with their sister about how she’s about to finish her nursing degree. It was meeting my cousin’s girlfriend, and talking with my aunt about the things she prays for her kids. And it was the end of the day, where my immediate family and I looked at each other, tired but smiling, and said: “We did it.”

The stress of cleaning, the work of setting out food, the crowd of people—what a privilege it is. What a privilege to love and serve our family in that way, to create space for those special moments. No family is perfect, but what a perfect miracle it is for imperfect people to come together and love and laugh and share life. There is no bond quite like family, and while our rough edges can make pressing in together uncomfortable at times, there is such richness that comes when we imperfectly pursue each other’s presence. We were made to be known and loved, to connect and communicate—and family is the perfect place to practice that.

And what a joy when we get it right.

I don’t know how you feel about Thanksgiving or your family. I do know that there’s a lot to be thankful for, and the uncomfortable, rewarding work of being family is one of those things. I hope that you give your family that privilege, of pressing in with the gift of your presence—and perhaps being rewarded by the gift of theirs.

Happy Thanksgiving.

And to my family: It is an honor to be one of you. I am so blessed to know and love you—and more preciously, to be known and loved by you.


Go Where You See Jesus : Why I am Writing Again

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The last few weeks have been rough for me. Those of you who know me know that depression has been part of my story for half of my life. It sucks. It’s an old, familiar battle that has often been won–only to crop up again in new seasons. I have cried over it, begged God to end it—and yet still face it.

It is a long fight that I am tired of fighting.

Today, I read a book called Beautiful Outlaw that my sweet friend Brittany gave me. It talks about the person of Jesus, about the radical, extravagant, life-giving Son of God and Son of Man who came to give the lost and hurting a Savior.

I don’t know about you, but I sure do need saving these days.

The epilogue of this book hit me more than any other part of it. In the epilogue, suffering is addressed. It hits hard, hits fast – “Suffering will try to separate you from Jesus. You must not let it.”

The whole book is about the person of Jesus, and finding life in him. And the book ends with saying that we must fight to know him in a world that is full of hurt, full of suffering, full of battles that seek to keep our gaze away from our Deliverer.

We must not let it.

It is friendship with Jesus that gives light on the darkest days. It is friendship with Jesus that allows our suffering to connect us in a new and intimate way with him. He is familiar with suffering—“Man of Sorrows,” who knows our weaknesses, knows my weaknesses. He can love me and understand me in a way no one else on earth ever will.

I have been challenged, in the battle for my soul and heart, to seek Jesus in a new way. There is a deep cry in my heart for healing—and I know Jesus heals. He may never erase clinical depression in my life, but I know he will bring healing in it. I know, because he has already brought me much healing—and I know that he will continue to, because even when depression fogs my vision, my deepest heart knows: Jesus is good, and he loves me.

My job is just to remember, to soak in that goodness and love.

So I have been challenged with this thought: If I am to know Jesus, and to know healing that comes from friendship with him—then I must go where Jesus is.

That is why I’m starting to write again.

In words and writing, I find parts of myself and pictures of Jesus that I might miss out on otherwise. I have loved words my whole life, and I have spent hours writing them out of an overflow of my heart. I have found Jesus on many days with a pen in hand.

But I have not been writing lately. For many reasons: fear, fatigue, feelings of futility about my words. And I am afraid that by not writing, by letting words leave me, I have missed out on finding Jesus.

So, I am writing again. I fear I won’t have much to say that’s of worth—I fear what I have to say will be said very poorly.

But that’s ok.

Because this time, writing is not going to be about a message or a platform or perfectly wrapped presentation to the world.

This time, writing is going to be an invitation.

It is an invitation to me: to plumb the depths of my heart; to find, in words, the Jesus I might miss if I were not writing.

It is an invitation to you: perhaps in this process, you can also find words that encourage you to be real, to say it’s ok to struggle and crucial to be real in the battles we face. We were not made to do life alone. So I will do life with you, through my words, and maybe encourage you to do life with others, too. Words can bridge us, connect us—this is your invitation to connect, here in this space, and then maybe to encourage you to connect with others in your space.

And finally, an invitation to Jesus: I need you. Let me see you. Let me find you in writing, find you in seeking, find you in healing.

I need to go where I see Jesus. And I have seen him in writing.

And so—I am writing again.

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