Christmas Lights before Turkey?

Thanksgiving offers well needed time to spend on “home” work instead of “work” work; a few extra days to pull out Christmas decorations and dust off the cobwebs. Most don’t take kindly to Christmas lights until the turkey is gone, the pie plates are empty and the balloons have floated down the streets of New York. I am one of those people, yet when the business side of my brain slowly faded into slumber, the creative side took a deep breath, exhaling fresh ideas for the upcoming season.

A solitary live oak tree stands majestically in our field, towering to the sky, its massive branches stretching out, casting its cooling shade, as it has for hundreds of years. On one side, the branches part in angular fashion, providing the perfect frame for a Christmas Nativity scene. Pieced together barn wood and a few lights create silhouettes of Joseph, Mary and the manger.

Envisioning the scene and pondering additions led me to the realization that field grass and weeds had overgrown the area. As the lawnmower trimmed the area to a reasonable height, it struck me that I was literally “preparing the way for the Lord” and “ making room for the Christ child”. I felt a little jab in the ribs by God’s sense of humor, as there was more here than simply leveling the ground as to not interfere with the lighting. The parallels began to settle in as a sobering reminder of places in my heart that have remained untended, weeds taking root due to sheer apathy, or pulling one weed at a time as two more sprout behind me.

In the midst of this lesson, a song came to mind, written by Michael Peterson and recorded by John Berry in 2000, called “My Heart is Bethlehem. The premise is to make room for Jesus in my heart, a humble dwelling made worthy only by His grace.

In that tiny town, some two thousand years ago, there was no room at the inn, no “proper” place for a child to be born. God chose instead, to enter this world as a child, in the lowliest of places, a dark and dirty stable, surrounded by animals. Yet His presence made the place so revered that shepherds and wise men traveled to see this King of kings.

Admittedly, there are corners of my soul as dark and dirty as that stable.

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12 – NIV

Not only does God see what we try to hide in the darkness, he makes the dark places bright as day, so that we are not overtaken by the shadows of sin. Jesus entered this world in a dark and dirty space, certainly nothing worthy of a king. In the same way, He is willing to come into our hearts, even in the dustiest of corners and light up the entire space. I need to spend more time cutting the grass and pulling weeds to make a place for Him.

Christmas decorations celebrating the coming of Jesus, displayed before Thanksgiving? What greater thing is there to be grateful for?

Thankful for the Christ in Christmas
And Blessed in Great Measure

If you are making room for Jesus, let me know. I love a good story.
Email me at
I will send you a notification when I publish a new heart story.

Joseph’s Lullaby- A Child That Is Not My Own

Not much is known about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, but I’ve always been drawn to songs written from his perspective. One of my favorites is “Joseph’s Lullaby” by Mercy Me.

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
imply be my child

The song is about Joseph, holding baby Jesus in his arms. He felt grossly inadequate, wondering how he could possibly raise a child that is not his own, especially this blessed child, the Son of God.

When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he was fully within the law of the time to publicly divorce her and even stone her. But “being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, he was minded to put her away privately.” Matthew 1:19

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:20-21

So Joseph awoke and did as the angel instructed. A great leap of faith or the shock of seeing an angel, or a little of both.

I don’t know what it is like to care for a child that is not my own. There have been days when a car load of kids was entrusted to us on the way to a game, or band contest, or off to the local burger joint, but not to raise as our own. There are earthly angels that foster and adopt children that probably know a little more of what Joseph was going through.

I wondered what Joseph was feeling as he watched Jesus grow and become less of his little boy and more of what God had called him to be. As I pondered these thoughts, I got a glimpse into what it was like.

When our daughter first walked on to her college campus, she had a plan, play basketball, coach basketball, and teach kids how to love the game. Things started to change and she hung up her sneakers. She joined the choir and started taking music classes. She said that she found her love of music again. As she was struggling with the thought of changing her major, her campus pastor asked what it was that appealed to her about coaching and she said it was teaching something that she loved. Her pastor told her that maybe her training was leading her to coach in another capacity. Maybe that was music.

It is said that if you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life. So here she is, loving what she is doing, stepping out in faith, pursuing her passion.

Now we have seen her in bands and choirs, but not on stage by herself. This past week, we attended a semester recital. She stepped onto the stage, and we heard this stunning soprano voice. Then she picked up her clarinet and delivered a beautiful piece of music.

It was there that it hit me. This child that was my own, was only my own for a little while. She is quickly becoming her own. God has always put her in the right place at the right time and I can see His hand in everything that she does.

I imagine that was what Joseph was feeling.
Watch them grow, teach them all that you can and let God handle the rest.

Relying on faith
Excited to see what’s next
And Blessed in Great Measure