Christmas.

there are reasons that i love it, and other parts of the holiday i could do without..

pressure. time-sensitive expectations.  the whirl of it all…the churning of activity and the hope-i-didnt-miss-a-thing fear that hangs in the background..

i would much rather encounter the meaning of Christmas fresh and be reminded of the reason that Jesus came

to bring people closer and show His boundless love.

 

last Christmas, my favorite memory had nothing to do with gifts or capturing just the right shot…

it had to do with a conversation i had with a woman i met on Christmas Eve day

at the dog park.

 

Maureen didn’t have any dogs at the time, but felt the urge to stop by and watch the dogs play.

i had brought both of my children with me and of course, my one-year-old playful golden doodle

Maureen and i sat on the benches, skin bare of any makeup

without expectation of having an honest conversation until we made a genuine connection and our discussion dove deeper.

the mention of dogs evolved into an exchange about the sting of grief after losing a parent and the helplessness one feels while watching another suffer.

she did most of the talking until i told her about my children and their miraculous beginnings.

stunned at the science behind medical technology, she began to ask questions about in-vitro and freezing eggs and……

 

later in the conversation, her questions became more obviously linked to a personal part of her life.

her daughter was coming to town for Christmas with her partner.  they had at one time, considered having children using similar medical science.

she told me how embarrassed she was when she initially found out that her daughter was gay, and how horrible she feels now that she ever judged her daughter at all.

she told me how it felt to let go of the hopes of having story book wedding photos on her wall.

 

i couldn’t help it.  i had to tell her the beaming, glorious truth i had so humbly witnessed through the infertility process…

i had to let her know that God has loved us from the beginning, before we were eggs and cells and embryos..

He has been fighting on our behalf and His redeeming hand has been on us before we ever uttered a word or made a choice.

His love has never been conditional.

i wanted her to know that as i watched the breathtaking process of life forming in a petri dish…

as i tried to take in the tremendous amount of miraculous that has to come together to make a human being, i realized in a new and special way how much we are all wanted and loved by God.

i might want to mention that Maureen does not believe in God.  she only believes in what she can see…everything that is in front of her.

she once believed in the idea of an angel when her mother was suffering in the middle of the night and they could not get her pain pump to work.  an off-shift nurse responded to her call.  although it was against standard protocol, the nurse asked Maureen to fetch a tranquilizer out of her purse.  Maureen’s purse was our of sight, but somehow the nurse knew to ask.

She took that pill and crushed it up and placed it inside of Maureen’s mother’s cheek.

it was merciful. it was necessary.  Maureen could see it.

the nurse did not sign the medical log or report the visit.  she asked Maureen to forget what she had seen as she watched her mother breathe in comfort and calm.  that was as close to an angel as Maureen had seen.  she could not forget what she had seen.  not then.  not now.  she will never forget what she saw.

there was one other time she thought there might be a God…when she gave birth to her own children years ago.  she remembered thinking there must be another force in play as this new, perfectly-formed life came bursting out of her womb.

it was not by chance that we met at the dog park, the day before Christmas so she could see what God had done in my life

so she could see the children that might have never been had God not had His hands all over them.

we were pulled together that day so that I could build a bridge of love to her, straight from the heart of God.

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lately, i have realized that real ministry is not about perfect websites, or profiles, or presentations

a special group of friends, or appearances.

real ministry happens when people are available to connect with others where they are.

real ministry is a living cry for God to continue to reach people through people. Click To Tweet

just like God did thousands of year ago when He sent Jesus

to walk in real sandals that got dusty, with straps that frayed

whose hands were calloused from hard work

whose heart grew weary of people looking at Him with disbelief as He performed miracle after miracle.

Jesus was the real deal, and that’s what people need to experience.

 

i pray that Jesus is real to you today.  that you and i begin to understand how much we are utterly loved and wanted… how much our stories need to be told and retold so that others can see God.

God doesn’t require anything fancy.

He wants us to use who we are, where we are, to change the world one person at a time.

He wants people to understand how much they are loved, and how much He wants to show up in their lives.

Hebrews 4:15 (MSG)

We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.