All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us") (Matthew 1:22-23).

I tucked my sleepy toddler in bed and pushed aside his treasures — a stick and a "Biscuit" book. Boys are such shocking and addicting creatures. I want a two-year-old boy always.

But mothering was hard today.

I messed up, and even though my long-term goal was good and right, my words were impatient and ungracious.

I've been listening to the Bible out loud — as I drive, wash dishes, and mix bread. God's story on earth is told through such messy, needy people. The glorious gospel smashed hard up against fighting and deception. It's staggering. Perplexing.

How an immortal God dares to pause and press His fingerprint into the brittle clay of humankind is enough to leave me gasping. In one hand, we have the Holiest of Holies. In the other, we have a person bent on his own stubborn way. How can these two tell one story?

It's not the perfection of the man, Jesus, that makes the gospel of His beautiful, but the miracle of it. The restoration, the breath of heaven rushing into a dead body, the impossible putting on mortal flesh by the eternal and holy.

I'm jotting down goals for this year, but I'm eyeing them warily. Instead of a well-manicured life, and perfectly organized and aesthetic home, my heart is yearning for more connection with love... His love... and, to be part of His loving presence.

To know His voice, in my most crumbling moments.

To speak His words, instead of my hasty ones, to my children. Being fully present where God has me, and honest to goodness, letting everything else go.

I'm pushing it all aside. I'm listening. Yes, even listening to the sticks and books in the toddler's crib and looking for Him.

It's holy work. It's beautiful breaking.

God's story on earth is told through such messy, needy people.
Heaven and earth clasp hands and kiss.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Among us.

Within us.


He is here.

And I am listening!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).