Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: December 2015

The Meaning of the Manger

Christmas nativityI posted a link to this lesson a couple of years ago after it first aired, but our church replayed it this weekend and it’s worth linking to again. It’s our pastor discussing some little known historical facts about Christmas and the nativity. It’s about 40 minutes long, but the pertinent section starts at about the 15 minute mark, and if you have time I recommend giving it a watch.

For those who don’t have time, here’s the tl;dr version of the part that stood out to me: Jesus wasn’t born in some random stable and placed in any old manger. At the time of his birth, Bethlehem was the main center of the sheep-rearing industry that had grown up around the Jewish sacrificial system. All of the lambs that were used in the temple offerings in Jerusalem were bred and born in Bethlehem.

When it came time for a ewe to give birth, the shepherds would bring her to the tower of the sheep, a structure with a stone manger that served as a birthing center for the lambs. When a lamb was born, they would quickly swaddle it in strips of cloth and lay it in the manger to keep it calm and still until they could finish up with the mother and then examine the lamb to make sure it met the criteria for the sacrifice–being without any spot or defect.

It’s believed that this is the manger Jesus was laid in, wrapped in the same strips of cloth that were used to wrap the newborn lambs. It’s also likely that the shepherds that the angels appeared to to announce his birth weren’t random shepherds, but the same shepherds who watched over the official flock and oversaw the birth of each lamb.

Why did this lesson touch me so? Because it shows that God is not random. Just look at the care to detail He showed in arranging the birth of His Son — the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be redeemed once and for all.

And guess what? God cares just as much about the details of our lives–yours and mine. Nothing He allows into your life is random. Everything serves a purpose, and nothing escapes His notice or is beyond His care.

This Christmas, let’s remember how much God loves us, and let that reassure us how very much in control He is, and how very much He cares.

Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas,


Sometimes, to attain a dream you first have to give it up.


Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Actually, ever since I can remember being able to hold a pencil and form words, I’ve been a writer. I think it was probably sometime during junior high school when I decided I wanted to be a novelist.

This is my oldest, dearest dream, is what I’m saying.

If you follow this blog, then you know how this has been a year of learning to surrender my plans and wait for God’s timing and provision. God’s been working to undo a lifetime habit of running ahead and trying to make things happen in my own way, under my own power, on my own time table. And it hasn’t been an easy project. In a lot of ways, it’s still a work in progress.

About four years ago, one of the ways I ran ahead of God was to rush into self-publishing my fiction, starting with a paranormal romantic mystery called Restless Spirits. It was a short-cut to realizing my life-long dream. That short-cut had some rewards, but it was also filled with setbacks and disappointments. And, let’s face it: when teenaged me dreamed of one day becoming a professional novelist, that dream didn’t look anything like self-publishing.

One of the hardest things for me to let go of and surrender to God has been my writing dream. It hasn’t simply been a struggle; at times it’s been a straight-up fight. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve cried over it. I’ve pitched fits. I’ve lamented to God that I don’t know who I am if I’m not a fiction writer–that to take that from me was to strip me of my identity.

Gently, God helped me to realize that HE is my identity, not my writing. That the desire and ability He’s given me to write is for HIS purposes, not my own.

So at long last, I surrendered. I gave up my plans and desires, my dreams, to God, and asked Him to order my steps, shape my career according to HIS plan, and establish the work of my hands. I told Him that I longed for my writing to be used for HIS glory and not my own. And I meant it.

That’s the place I was at this summer when I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds for a sequel to Restless Spirits. Going into it, I entrusted the outcome completely to the Lord, believing that no matter how it turned out, He would use it for my good. I still believed that when the campaign ended without even coming close to my funding goal. And I committed to waiting and seeing what He had in store.

Just weeks after the campaign ended, completely out of the blue, I received an offer from Vinspire Publishing to repackage my novel Restless Spirits and write two full-length sequels. You can read that whole story here.

To that I’ll add that, though there was little doubt that this open door was from God, one of the things that cinched it for me is the fact that Vinspire, while not a “Christian Publisher” in the sense that they publish strictly inspirational and faith-based books, is a Christian organization that strives to meet a certain standard of family-friendliness in its publications.

You see, one of the things I’d been struggling with in my previous attempt to write a sequel was that it was taking a, shall we say, sexier route than the original. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that, but I couldn’t really see a way around it. It was something I’d been praying about. When the Kickstarter failed, I took that to mean that God simply didn’t want me to write this series. But now I’m taking this as Him telling me to tell the story in a way that does a better job of honoring Him. And with the deal inked and the parameters in place, this new outline and draft is coming together much better than the first version did.

My season of waiting isn’t yet over. I’ve got other dreams I’ve surrendered–motherhood among them–and I’m still waiting to see what God will do. And with this new door open for my noveling career, it remains to be seen where or how far it will take me.

But this much I know: God is faithful, and He is trustworthy, and His timing is perfect. And His plans are so much better than my own.

Are you in a season of waiting? Tell me what you’re waiting for so I can pray for you.

In love,



Just stop.
Stop striving.
Stop worrying.
Stopy living for the future.
Stop dwelling in the past.
Stop . . . and trust.
Stop . . . and be still.
Stop . . . and listen.
Stop . . . and obey.
Just stop and give it all to God, and find rest, peace and true contentment in this present moment.

In love,






Linking up with Holley Gerth – find more encouragement there!