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A Blog Post

Where is Baby Jesus?

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, instead of worshipping a peacefully sleeping babe in a manger, the goddess of Productivity is worshipped.

In the effort to make the most of the season, I fail to make the most of Him.

All the plans and the scheduled events and the purchasing and the preparing, and I fail to plan for Him, schedule Him in and prepare the way for His arrival…

Today. in this moment. with presents needing wrapping and kids screaming and the car only half-cleaned out and  a one year old walking around outside with only one shoe on, and the dinner hour fast approaching with the oven still cold and empty…..

He is Emmanuel, God with us.

And yet, I walk around with heavy heart, and disappointed spirit, and a wondering, why?

Why was our desire to go to Japan  left wanting? But we wrapped presents and sent gifts and good tidings with the over half the family members congregating for an Iverson Family Christmas on the other side of the globe.

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why would I go about coordinating an International Student Christmas Exchange Program, much like the one we had been involved with in Florida.  And I joyfully thought of all the families I know who would get to host Algerians and Moroccans and Taiwanese and Saudi Arabians….But just two days ago, the last of the students backed out, leaving the whole endeavor and all the weeks of coordinating a total flop?

That’s OK.  I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why in light of our present situation have having host families ready and eager here in ATL, but with no one to host, and  I hear of the 30+ Chinese students who still need host families for the week long Christmas Exchange program in Orlando, and are just camping out in hotels right now, longing for someone to take them in? And I puzzle over the fact that we are more than willing to host them but we happen to live eight hours away.  So I get on the phone and start asking old friends if THEY could host, and hours of phone conversations lead to nothing.

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why would we invite neighbors over, but due to a falling out with one of them, a whole slew of them are “banned” from coming over, much to the despair (and tears) of those kids, and ours, so our home offered to them is no longer an option? And why do the kids have to be the ones wounded in the middle of the crossfire?

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

And why would an offer to a recently widowed mutual friend from  the streets of downtown Atlanta, be met with no reply?

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

But the heart gets weary. And Hope is dimmed.  And feet trod through the motions. What is the point of Christmas if there is no one to share it with?

We wanted to offer our home and our Christmas celebration to someone to share it with us, Lord.  I don’t understand why nothing is working out. Where is your plan in all this?

And Danny whisks children to a Kids Christmas Concert this morning, and in the hustle of getting them out the door, I glance at the manger scene and see this:


Its the manger scene.  Its the frame. Its the people scattered about.  Its the lights and the dazzle. But where is Jesus?

“Trinity! Where is baby Jesus?”

“Oh, I don’t know Mommy, Benjamin was playing with him and we haven’t been able to find him for weeks now.”

For weeks now….

For weeks now, we have been going through the motions, setting up decorations, planning out presents and visiting CVS photo center more times that I’d like, and going late night shopping when I should have been sleeping, and meal planning, and baking, and all without Baby Jesus.

The frame of the scene had been there, but I hadn’t bothered to look closer.

The frame of the “Christmas scene” had been there, but I hadn’t bothered to look closer into the heart behind it all.

So today after the kids were ushered out the door with Danny, and I savor a few moments of silence, purposely choosing to turn a blind eye to the dishes needing doing and the playroom which exploded and all the beds not made, I savor those moments to lay out my heart hurts over all my failed planning and all my good endeavors thwarted to plan a Christmas to offer to the hurting and the lost and the nations and the nameless.

and right there as I scribble out complaints to the Lord in ink,  I find myself writing complaint AND answer to complaint

Lord we offered our home to international students.

I offered my time spent coordinating for other internationals.

We offered our home to neighbors.

We offered our family to the widowed.

And He spoke it to me through my own hands scribbling…

“Why don’t you offer it to me?”

And tears flood hard, as I realized what I had done. For in all my attempts to offer our Christmas celebrations to the “traditions” of offering it to Him, I failed to truly offer it to Him. He wasn’t there in the traditions.

No, He had been missing for weeks.

And I had been offering our Christmas celebrations to everyone BUT HIM.

So in these last five days of advent, when it should have been twenty-five, I will offer up heart, and hands, and gift giving and baking to HIM.

Inviting Him to BE EMMANUEL, God with us, in a humble home Christmas with “just” husband and five eager youngsters all birthed from this womb, instead of a coveted extended family made up of the hurting and the family-less, and the foreigner among us.

For He is all we need. Center of heart. Center of mind. Center of time.

The traditions, the events, the to-do’s, and the markings of advent

are all empty and void without that still, but-always-moving, frail but mighty-in-power, humble yet-the-Everlasting-King,

little Baby Jesus.

And maybe All those plans thwarted were God’s other plans. Plans for Him to show up where He was needed the most. So busy was I, attempting to bring Him to those that needed Him, that I failed to realize that I am the one that needs Him. Needs Him the most.

“To do righteousness and justice (in these humble moments) is more acceptable than sacrifice”  Proverbs 21:3

But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better….

                 ….Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what he was saying.

Luke 1o:42, 39