Be Careful, Little Ears, What You Hear

Here’s the problem with the internet. Okay, one problem with the internet. People say a lot of stupid stuff. People find authority in a keyboard, anonymity behind a screen, invincibility in the land of WiFi. And they don’t stop there. There’s TV, radio, music, and books, all waiting for people to speak their minds on their platforms. It’s hard to filter out what’s true and what’s not, especially when you respect the person talking.

Just last week, our family watched American Idol, and one of the judges said “God can only do for you what He can do through you”, to which another judge replied, “PREACH!” Daniel and I looked at each other with confused faces. There is no “God can only”. God can do anything, whether we exist or not. But this smooth talking singer just spoke into the minds of millions of viewers. Those who don’t know the Truth may already have this tattooed on their forearms or hand printed in their houses. It’s a phrase that sounds good and may encourage you to do more, but you’ve just minimized God’s ability and elevated your importance through that statement.

Yesterday, a friend was really struggling. She was dealing with some powerful emotions after experiencing a difficult time. She was wrestling with the idea that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. She wasn’t feeling strong, she was feeling broken. Here’s the thing: that’s not in the Bible either! Sometimes what doesn’t kill us leaves us beaten to a pulp. It damages our hearts and minds and it takes a long time to restore. We aren’t stronger just because we make it though something terrible. We are alive, and that’s about it. What the Bible does say is “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 CSB) God is strong in our weakness, not us. Sorry Kelly Clarkson, but I can’t get behind you on this one. 

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. -2 Timothy 4:3-4

We want so badly to make sense of our problems. We want to hear that we can work our way to perfection or earn the ability to solve our many issues. The problem is that spiritual discipline is hard. What’s easy is getting distracted by the easy way out or words that twist the Bible into our own ideas. If we are caught in a sin trap, and someone finds a way to make our sin sound okay, we cling to that. If we don’t know what the Bible truly says in the first place, we can find ourselves in a dangerous place of trusting humans over trusting God.

Study your Bibles. Know what applies to you and what doesn’t. Be students of the Scriptures and doers of the word and not hearers only. No one can know Jesus for you. -Beth Moore

If you hear something that doesn’t quite sound right, compare it to Scripture. Does your interpretation of one verse gel with the rest of the Bible as a whole? Is the person you’re listening to taking one verse out of context or changing it just enough to justify something? If you’re not confident, ask your pastor, your Sunday School teacher, or Bible study leader. Search the Bible using the index or an online Bible website. Take some time to study instead of just accepting everything you hear. Be on guard. Your heart depends on it.

And one more thing: “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is not about going through a trial. It’s about temptation, and it says He will provide a way out. He will most definitely give you more than you can handle. When He does, cling to Him and watch Him move (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. -Proverbs 4:23 CSB

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The Lovely

“There’s a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance, between looking for lovely and not giving up. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things that everyone sees, but it’s what you see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments that God gives you to collect and hold and draw strength from during the difficult times” -Annie F. Downs in Looking for Lovely

Every night at dinner, we each say two things we are thankful for. We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Maybe even before Harrison could talk. Lately, one of the boys has had trouble coming up with something. He says similar things most days, but as he gets older, we try to teach him to search for deeper things. Daniel is so good about modeling how we can find the lovely in seemingly mundane things. He’s thankful for cars that get us where we need to go. He’s thankful for air conditioning. He’s thankful for audio books. He shows the boys that we don’t have to find some enormous situation to be enormously grateful.

Last week we had two upset boys when their plans for ice cream got cancelled. They had a weekend full of sweet treats, parades, cousin play time, surprise lunches, and pizza, but when we opted to eat cookie cake instead of ice cream, their world fell apart, and so did they. We knew they were tired and out of sorts, but we tried desperately to teach them about being grateful for the things we have instead of upset about the things we don’t. We had a similar experience again this week over gum.

As parents, it’s disheartening to see your kids act ungrateful when you provide so much. We may not have as much as some, but we have way more than most. I want them to realize that.

When our son said he couldn’t think of anything he was thankful for, I knew we had to have a Full House moment. Daniel and I named about ten things he could be thankful for- serious things, silly things, everyday things. He didn’t bite. We left him to think about it, and he eventually wrote down that he was thankful for his brother. After he finally came up with something, I noticed he was lighter. I saw his goofiness return, he was more playful, and more loving toward Daniel and me.

In the Bible study I’m doing right now at church, Annie F. Downs talks about looking for the lovely. She anchored the study around Romans 5:3-4 which tells us that suffering produces patience, which produces character, which produces hope. Daniel and I were by no means suffering at our child’s ungratefulness, but we were frustrated. Still, we kept reiterating the importance, because we knew it would pay off. Perseverance in our efforts to discipline our kids not only shapes our characters, but our kids’ as well.

Will our kids have things to say thank you about today? Maybe not. Will we have another meltdown over desserts? Probably so. But I truly believe they will become fewer and farther between; that is my hope. We will continue in pursuit of Proverbs 22:6, which says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV)

Someone wise on Facebook once said “Mommin’ ain’t easy”. It’s hard, holy work. Today, my other son has said thank you a little more, yes ma’am and yes sir a few more times, and given unsolicited hugs and kisses. We’re getting there, little by little. Our goal today was no complaining, and so far, we’re on track.

I say all this, not to say I have it all figured out or even to commiserate, but to say that whatever you’re doing today to prepare your kids for adulthood is important. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. They’ll get there, and the world will thank you for it.

Keep on, dear friends!

Transition

Transition. The word has gotten a bad rap lately, thanks to John Crist’s video about it being a sugar coated word in churches for “you’re fired”. But, it’s one I’ve used a hundred times in the last two weeks. My role has transitioned. I am transitioning to a new job. My schedule has transitioned. All of the above.

My students are sweet and rambunctious. They give me hugs and headaches. They are loving but temperamental. They always want to know when it’s lunch time. Even after lunch. And the tattling. Oh, the tattling.

I felt an exhaustion I didn’t recognize this week. At 2pm on Wednesday afternoon, I thought to myself, “I don’t know how I will make it another 90 minutes, much less through church tonight.” But I did. Life went on, and Thursday was easier.

I don’t think it’s hit me that this is permanent. Like, I changed careers. This isn’t a vacation or a trial run. This is it. I know I’ve made the right choice. I know this is the path that God led me on over the last two years. It’s just a little crazy to think about it being the culmination of putting one step in front of the other.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 KJV

After all the tears, stuck feelings, frustration, uncertainty, and prayer, He’s brought me to where I’m supposed to be. He’s answered my prayers.

I was listening to Lysa Terkeurst’s new book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, this morning, and she said something that really stuck out to me: God loves me too much to answer my prayers at any other time than the right time and in any other way than the right way (page 45).

When I started my teaching curriculum last fall, I knew it would prepare me for a job the following fall, but I held onto the hope that a position would open up in January. At Christmas break, I began searching the school board website for openings, to no avail. I figured certainly, if someone was going to leave midyear, they would turn in their resignation before Christmas. When nothing opened, I felt my heart sink a little. I had January in my head. If I could just make it to January, things would get better. Halfway through the month, I continued to feel discouraged, but I trusted God’s timing. Then I got a call. I was asked to come in for an interview on a day I was already scheduled to be off. Talk about God lining everything up! Here’s the thing though: I didn’t start in January, but February.

If you’ve been following my story or my posts for any length of time, you may remember that February is kind of a hard month for me. A few years ago, we lost our baby, Hartley, when I was pregnant in September, but his due date was in February. The due date tends to be harder because I see what I “should” have had. Because I was pregnant at the same time as several friends, February is the month they celebrate birthdays, and I don’t. February is the time when I look at what could have been and compare it to what is. Comparison truly is the thief of joy-even when you’re comparing against your own story.

Daniel and I have been intentional with our Februarys. The first year, we went to Nashville and saw some of our favorite artists, ate amazing food, and volunteered with Show Hope. Now God, in His kindness, allows us to attend the Linger conference every February around the time Hartley would have been born. (I say “would have” from a human perspective- his story was never meant to go any farther than September.) This year, God gave me the gift of an answered prayer. An answer that could have seemed late came right on time. He answered it in the right time and in the right way.

This gift comes with work. Like a parent who gives their child a puppy after they promise to feed, walk, and groom said puppy, I have to keep learning how to be a teacher. I have to figure out how to enter grades, how to control the volume of six year olds, how to navigate unkind comments, how to work with parents, and how to balance work and home life. I feel like my new job came with a big, fancy bow tied around it, but I know I worked for this too. God gave me the endurance and just enough information and encouragement to take one step at a time, leading me to my classroom.

We are learning to look for lovely in my Thursday night Bible study, and I can see this season is abounding in lovely if I keep looking. I can look at the past few months and see the lovely in the heartache and appreciate the lovely as I stand on the mountain top. He was with me every step of the way, and He continues to hold my hand on the other side of the finish line.

The Bible tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17), and I wholeheartedly believe that- now more than ever. He’s gifted me with friends who provide classroom supplies, stress-relieving bubble bath, words of encouragement, texts with school related jokes every morning, food, and flowers. He’s gifted me with an amazing team of teachers who are willing to answer all of my questions with smiles on their faces. He’s gifted me with this transition, and I’m so thankful.

-Mrs. Dumas (aka Mrs. Doo-MAS, Mrs. Doofus, Mrs. Dugas, Mommy, or Teacher.)

 

 

 

New Beginnings

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will… -Hope Floats

Nine years ago, I stood up in front of my church, squeaky voiced and eyes filled with happy tears, thanking my church family for praying for me to get a job as a child life specialist at a hospital in Baton Rouge. I had gotten it! I was overwhelmed with joy. It was the job I’d wanted, in the city I’d wanted. I could continue going to my new church home forever and ever. I could see myself holding this job forever and ever.

It was a job I accepted without knowing the salary, without knowing how many intimate moments I would share, without knowing how many heartbreaking stories I’d become a part of, and without knowing just how much it would change my life.

I’ve grown up at this job. Between volunteering and working, I have spent the last eleven years in those hospital halls. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve been a part of pivotal decisions and renovations. I’ve seen blueprints become buildings and dreams become realities. I’ve gotten married, had babies, lost babies, seen financial struggles, released a book, and experienced both happiness and frustration. I’ve done life alongside the most amazing coworkers, and I’ve learned from the strongest children and families. And the road, for me, is about to end.

Burn out is no joke. I did my best to fight against the statistics. I wrote articles about avoiding it, I practiced self care, I adjusted my attitude, and it happened anyway. There are a lot of factors and a lot of events that led to where I found myself, but long story short, I burned out. I felt stuck. What else could I do in my field? I prayed for answers, and answers came. It was time for a new career in teaching. I was able to enroll in classes and begin a road to certification. And as of last week, I have accepted a position as a kindergarten teacher.

It’s a whole new world. It’s exciting and terrifying. I’m ready, and I’m shaking in my boots.

One of the most inspiring stories in the Bible is in Mathew 14 when Jesus walks on water, and then invites Peter to join Him. Peter asks for the invitation. He’s ready to make a leap of faith, but he needs Jesus’ beckoning. He fixes his eyes on Jesus, and he gets out of the boat. Only when he loses his focus does he begin to sink, and even then, Jesus rescues him. I asked God to give me an opportunity to get out of the boat, and He did. I’m doing my best to stay afloat with my eyes set on Him.

I can’t lie and say this decision was clear cut. I love my team dearly. I have been beating myself up for burning out and not being stronger. But when I look to God, and I look at the bigger picture, I believe I am where I need to be. The fact that it’s hard to go says I’m leaving a wonderful group of people. In my weakness, He is strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

I’m looking forward to helping kids in a new way. I’m ready to step up to the challenge of being in the classroom setting. I’m elated that I will have more time with my boys in the summers, weekends, and holidays. I’m doing a happy dance just thinking about saying goodbye to the interstate every day. There are so many good things ahead. I truly believe God allowed my flame to burn out in one area so it could be reignited in another.

I’m thankful, once again, for answered prayers. I’m thankful for new paths. I’m thankful for God’s timing. I’m thankful for the wait and the harvest that comes after. My story began with tears, and it’s ending with tears for now. I grieve the loss of such a sweet season in my life, but I rejoice for this new one as well.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Here we go!

I Can’t Solve a Rubik’s Cube, but I Can Scrub a Floor.

A wise man once said, “I pity the fool”. Well, bring on the pity, because I was pretty foolish the other day. If you search through the Bible for verses on anger, you’ll see a correlation between that and foolishness. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.” I was angry for a really dumb reason, too.

You ready for this?

I can’t solve the Rubik’s cube. That’s not symbolic for “I can’t make my life line up the way I want”, or “I need more organization”. I cannot make the six sides of that frustrating (child’s) toy line up. I watched tutorials, I read through step-by-step instructions about how to make it work, and it was just not clicking. 

It was getting pretty late, so I threw in the towel. I tend to think better in the mornings anyway. Daniel was still awake when I got in bed, and he innocently asked, “Well, did you solve it?”. I was less than kind. I can definitely see the connection between anger and foolishness, because I can only imagine how idiotic I sounded, huffing and puffing that I couldn’t fix a child’s plaything.

woody

About two hours later, I was startled from sleep and heard one of the boys stirring, followed by a knock on my door, which isn’t their usual entrance. I jumped up to find my youngest in primed puking position, followed by a trail of vomit, from his room, down the hall, and to the bathroom. Here we go. I got him cleaned up, got the bathroom cleaned up, and then moved on to the carpet. Guess what! I got angry that we had carpet and not hard floors. I scrubbed and I disinfected, all the while frustrated that it was so difficult and disgusting. And Daniel slept through it all. The thing is, this is not a surprise. Daniel could sleep through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolling through our bedroom. He would wake up and ask where all the confetti came from. I know that he is more than willing to help, I just have to wake him up. This is not a character flaw, this is just how he functions. Instead, I chose to be mad at his sleeping habits, which are out of his control, and it landed me nowhere.

I got Harrison back in bed, armed with Pepto, towels, open doors, and lifted toilet lids. My heart was racing, and I was still mad about the Rubik’s cube because, why shouldn’t that come to mind at midnight?

Over the course of the night, my son got sick again, and I ended up sleeping in his room to avoid anymore cleanups. My anger faded to concern and sleepiness. It’s hard to be angry when your kid is feeling so helpless and puny, even if an unsolved Rubik’s cube is just a room away.

Colossians 3:8 tells us to rid ourselves of anger. God understands how we are made. He isn’t asking us not to be angry because He wants us to be unaffected robots. He knows how awful it makes us feel. If I could have vomited out anger like my child vomited out…well…we will leave it there, I would have. My heart was racing, I wasn’t sleeping, I said words that were unkind, and I was foolish. Proverbs 22:24 even goes as far as to say we shouldn’t be friends with angry people. I mean who would want to be friends with someone like that? Not me!

Are things going to make us angry? Yes. Is it normal to get angry at life’s obstacles? Absolutely. It’s good that we get a stirring in our soul over injustice or terror or wrongdoings. But toys? Bedroom flooring? No ma’am.

God slowed me down that day. I sat with a recovering child in my lap for most of it. I diffused essential oils, in hopes that whatever germ caused his sickness would not affect any of us. I re-scrubbed carpets and tiles with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit. I thanked God that his nausea had subsided. The only thing he wanted to drink was sparkling grape juice that we were saving for New Year’s Eve, but we popped that open early and downed half the bottle and a Lunchable. So classy.

It’s hard to be mad when you’re in the Word or giving thanks. A dear woman at church taught me that. She also taught me to blow kisses at people who are ugly to you. That just makes me laugh, considering she’s nearing 80. But it’s true. My anger disappeared when I was praying to God and loving my son. My anger would have disappeared earlier if I was being a loving wife instead of a grump.

Why does anger make us foolish? Because we’re stewing instead of calling out to the One who can fix it. Will He solve my puzzle? Probably not, but He will give me patience and perspective. He will give me something better to do with my time and energy. He will remind me of the gifts I have that don’t include Rubik’s cube solving.

Remember that anger equates with foolishness. Don’t give yourself a reason to be pitied. Don’t throw a regrettable fit or say words that can’t come back. The phrase “word vomit” comes to mind, especially with our recent events. It’s hard to clean up, and the smell lingers.

On that note, happy Friday, and Happy New Year! It’s good to be starting another year with you, dear readers. Thanks for sticking by me and all my mess!

O Come Let Us Adore Him

O come let us adore Him.

If there was ever a cause for love at first sight, a newborn baby would be it.

Such promise and power packed in a tiny being.

A baby who would grow to rescue and ransom

to come for the slave and the sinner

the weak and the wealthy

the tired and troubled

the broken and beautiful.

A baby.

Fully dependent, fully God.

O come let us adore Him.

They knew He was coming- but not that night, not that way.

An unexpected, startling blessing.

The star spoke for itself yet left so much unsaid.

Is this what we’ve waited for?

Where are his riches? Where is His crown? What king lies in straw with animals abound?

Did we miss a turn? Did we misunderstand?

But one look sent grown men to their knees. It silenced their questions, it stilled their souls. This. This is what we’ve waited for.

O come let us adore Him.

We wait too.

In between resurrection and return, death and life, presence and distance.

Jesus, come quickly.

Will we follow a star with fear and uncertainty?

Will we cling to what we know to be true?

Will our knees hit the ground before we even know what’s happening?

May we be shaky but certain, humbled but hopeful, speechless but saved.

May we worship the Lord, the risen King, our Maker, our Master, our Jesus.

Love at first sight- once felt for a baby, now the God of the universe. We know Him now.

We know the beginning of the story. We know the end.

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

We are so close. In the homestretch. It’s TOMORROW! The day we’ve waited for all year is less than 24 hours away.

Are you starting to worry about last minute preparations? Are you realizing the things you forgot to do? I forgot to buy our boys’ annual matching Christmas pajamas. After two or three unsuccessful trips, and past the point of Amazon delivery, we are deciding to forego them. And we will be okay. They will be okay. Surprise! Christmas will go on.

This year, I’ve broken more ornaments and decorations than I usually do. Thank goodness for the hot glue gun; we’ve managed to salvage a few pieces for another year.  But just yesterday, my living room looked like I was setting up a Kevin McAllister style booby trap. Those shattered ornaments are no joke! Some have been replaceable, some have been sentimental. It feels like a punch in the gut to lose them, but it’s truly just a material item at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, I’m also starting to let hints of comparison slip in, even when I know better. Dollar signs are starting to appear. We spent how much? Can we afford it? Did we over do it? How can they afford all that? Why can’t we? This is not what it’s supposed to be about. I feel guilty.

Where should my focus be? What does matter? We are with family. Tonight, we will sing Silent Night by candle light with a body of believers. We will take communion to remind ourselves of the sacrifice Jesus made when He came to the manger.

Jesus. Jesus matters.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors! -Luke 2:14 CSB

So you didn’t get your hop-along boots or your pistol that shoots. Maybe you didn’t get a hippopotamus or your two front teeth. Maybe you didn’t find those dreaded Christmas shoes. The calendar will still show December 25 tomorrow. Meals will still be eaten-even if it’s at a Chinese restaurant. Wrapping paper will be torn off, no matter how well or how poorly the present was wrapped.

May your ears be filled with the sweetest little voices singing “Olaf fun it mister ride on a one horse open sleigh” or “Deck the hallway shoe be jolly”. We tried.

Praise the Lord for His gift. Better than anything we can get on Amazon or Target. Better than the best Black Friday sale. More important than finding the perfect gift, with more grace than we even need for forgetting one…or seven details. My soul magnifies the Lord, not myself.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
 and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
 from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm;
 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55 CSB

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

Guest post by Whitney Davis

Oh, Christmas Tree, oh Christmas tree, in which state will I see thee?

When I was in the fourth grade, I had an assignment to write where I thought I would be in 10 years. My 10-year plan was simple: dating to marry, a college degree, a little white pooch with a super hipster name, and a nice Lexus sedan in my driveway. Boy did I get it wrong!

Not only did I think I would be living it up in Suburbia, America, I also thought Christmas would remain the same my whole life, year after year. My mom would always insist on opening presents while listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas album (Amy was Queen in the Davis household). Our habitual breakfast was cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, which we ate while opening our stockings; we saved those for the end! Dad would rock some variety of a completely ridiculous pair of Christmas boxers and I would wait patiently to play with all my sister’s presents instead of my own.

My point is, there was about a 10-year streak where Christmas was the “BEST DAY EVER”.
As I got older, Christmas got colder. My once-perfect image of a family was eventually dispersed to three different states, and I began to rely on others’ families for comfort on this highly expectant holiday.  It is hard to remember the reason for the season when you are worried about where you will spend Christmas every year. This particular year I am fortunate enough to spend the day with some of my absolute favorite people, but there is still a little part of this ticker that wishes the ole “Davis Family Christmas” still occurred.
I can only imagine what Mary thought when her traditions were turned upside down. I am sure her family had a hard time understanding her circumstances, and they definitely did not spend Christmas in a cozy home opening gifts and drinking hot chocolate.

Mary’s world was changed forever! Nothing in her life would be the same after learning the news that she would in fact carry the light of the world in her womb! But what did Mary do that most cannot? She had hope and embraced change.
“ButMary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
My Christmas might look different every year with different people. Loved ones will come and go, but one thing is for sure. I will lift my eyes to the Maker and remember that He gives us everything we need when we need it. Mary held on and embraced this new life, for she was chosen and holy and loved by the Lord, our Savior.

1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” When you know the Lord and believe in your heart that He gave his Son for you, the sweet Son that Mary carried and raised, you know He will not let you go. He will love and protect you and you will persevere. I hope to one day have my own family Christmas traditions, but for now, I will embrace the adventure of December!
Remember to love on those who do not have a traditional family Christmas, love on those who tend to be a Grinch in December, and mostly love on those who struggle with depression this Holiday season.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

We are on a break! And not the Ross and Rachel kind! No school for two weeks, no work for four days, egg nog milkshakes, White Christmas, cinnamon rolls, presents, and no alarms! My heart is ready.

I love that Christmas helps us slow down, even though the days leading up to it can seem like a whirlwind. I need help remembering to slow down.

As I type, Harrison is picking out sight words and punctuation in my blog. He’s my reminder to not to rush. Hudson is counting his new baseball cards with painstaking care. He’s making perfect stacks and sorting them by teams. I’ll embrace the slow. We don’t have anywhere to be at this very moment, and I will choose to be here.

Our efforts to find the perfect presents have come to fruition. Our decorations are set. We may have some laundry to fold and some suitcases to pack, but we have time. What a gift.

I’ll make this short and sweet. Spend time together today. Enjoy the slowness of the weekend before Christmas. Settle in, enjoy a movie or two, eat foods that aren’t on your diet because they only come around once a year, and savor the slow.

Be merry!

Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too wondrous for me.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like a weaned child.- Psalm 131:1-2

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

“I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders the Most High God has done for me. How great are His miracles, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” -Daniel 4:2-3

“Miracle” tends to be a word we often relate to Christmas. “It’s a Christmas miracle!” or Miracle on 34th Street come to mind. Those are words we, as humans, have added to Christmas, but it doesn’t make Christmas and our own experiences any less miraculous.

I’ve been following the story of a little girl with a very sick heart. She was hospitalized for about three months, with a very up-and-down hospital course, which ultimately ended in a heart transplant. She got to go home yesterday! Her story has been nothing short of miraculous.

A few of my own patients have turned corners in the last few days and are now ready to go home for Christmas. They’ve received their own Christmas miracles.

Some are still waiting on their miracles; some are expectant, some are weary, some are doubtful, some are hopeful. Christmas brings out all of the emotions, especially when the need for healing is on the line.

The beautiful thing about being in an environment where little miracles happen every day and big miracles happen regularly is that it’s easy to see God’s nearness and goodness. I suppose it is more magnified because we also see the sadness and walk with the broken hearted. It’s starkly contrasted before our eyes.

When someone dies anytime between November and December, I feel like someone always utters the phrase “right here at Christmas, too”. We feel protected during this time, like nothing bad could or should happen, because it’s Christmas. We’ve called Christmas magical. God called it miraculous.

Death, for a Christian, is miraculous. We safely arrive at home, forever in the arms of Jesus. Our gift of salvation is a miracle, and it started on Christmas day. Our Rescuer, our Redeemer, our Lord and Savior came to dwell with us that we may live forever with Him. Does it make it less sad? No, but I think it takes the sting away a little bit. As Christians, we can have hope while we wait for a miracle and when the miracle looks a little different than we expected.

When you’re hurting, it’s hard to see the lights and hear the music this time of year. It magnifies the fact that everyone else seems to be having a better time than you. It mocks your grief, or at least that’s how it feels. Imagine God’s picture. The bigger one that we only catch a glimpse of. The one with every detail that He’s painted, every brushstroke intentional for His glory. In those fine lines are His interwoven details to present something that’s nothing short of miraculous. When you forget the twinkle lights for a moment and look to His Light, there is a glimpse of hope.

Don’t forget that God is still performing miracles as we speak. Don’t forget that He is good when your circumstances are not.

How can you look for miracles today? How do you see God’s kindness at work in your life? May you see a miracle and praise our God, who makes it all possible.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” -Luke 1:32-33 CSB