Four days filled me up to overflowing. I thought I would burst from the happiness of it.

We do this once a year, these friends of mine and I. We find a place to gather, block off time (which is often far more difficult than it should be), buy plane tickets, secure babysitters, and fly from four different locations in the United States to have four days of business planning, brainstorming, spiritual diving and face-to-face relationship. It’s my human slice of heaven. It fills me on so many levels.

But then our time together came to an end. And real life resumed. The 24 hours following looked a little something like this:

  • Mom wakes up, energized and ready to wrap up work stuff and drive home to her beautiful family.
  • Mom starts driving home. Call with babysitter who is locked out of the house.
  • Mom stuck in traffic and unable to get home to help babysitter get in said house.
  • Phone rings with news that kid #2 missed the bus.
  • Mom phones babysitter to pick up said kid from school, after picking up other two from bus stop.
  • Mom still stuck in traffic and unable to get home.
  • Mom panics because she remembers standing appointment in 15 minutes at the house. The house that no one can get into.
  • Mom still in traffic and unable to get home.
  • Mom messages standing appointment to cancel. Profuse explanations and apologies follow.
  • Mom home. Kids home. 10 minutes to make dinner and jump back in car for another appointment.
  • Kids and mom load in car. Quesadillas and carrots accidentally dumped all over said car.
  • 1.5 hours of driving and appointment. Almost ran out of gas.
  • Mom stops for gas and stands in -132 degrees F.
  • Mom home. Mom finally eats at 8:30 pm.
  • 9:00 pm phone call from teacher regarding school mishap.
  • Sleep. Until waking up at 4:45 am like a cat on speed. WHY, OH WHY?!
  • 2 hours of before-school routine chaos (you know the drill).
  • 1.5 hours of driving, while multitasking 1 hour work call (hands-free, don’t send letters).
  • 2-hour appointment at the dentist to get a crown. Needles, numbing, drills, all kinds of suction and x-rays and TRAUMA.
  • Email from another teacher regarding another mishap.
  • Mom tries to eat soup. Mouth still slacking on the right side like her morning routine included a stroke. Soup dribbles. Mom is officially a toddler.

There you have it. That is what my last 24 hours looked like. Hopefully, you’re laughing, at least a little. You get it, I know. But before you start scrolling to leave me a feel-good comment (OR reaching out your hand to slap my whiney self), know I am perfectly fine.

None of these things were life-threatening or serious or irreparable. Every one of these things is a normal part of the human experience. Life is complicated and unpredictable and high-maintenance. Just the way it is.

But here’s the reality of how this “normal” life impacted me: I went from FULL to EMPTY in 24 hours. I went from feeling on top of the world to feeling completely weighed down by it. Isn’t this what happens to all of us? No matter how hard we work to fill ourselves up, we always end up empty once again. Sometimes it takes more than 24 hours, but it happens. To every one of us.

But I have news for you. Good News.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. —Isaiah 9:6-7a

This is what I’m contemplating this Christmas season.

I’m thinking about a God who abandoned the fullness of heaven to embrace an empty manger. He took on humanity, poverty, and nakedness so we could experience heaven, wealth, and abundance. He entered into poverty fully—a helpless baby in a stable manger—so that we’d know he understands hunger and emptiness and need. He knows how fragile our human selves are. How desperately we need a Divine filling.

And so He came.

For me and for you. Those of us empty and hungry and worn out from ordinary life. Those of us who feel like we have no greatness to offer and no gifts to give. The manger was a gift exchange that went only one way. His gifts for our gain.

So if you’re empty and hungry and lonely today, if ordinary life has worn down your reserves and you’re praying for JESUS TO COME ASAP, He has already come. And He’s coming again.

Because He is the gift. He is the greatness. And He is your glory.

[callout]To read more on how the poverty of the manger made a place for us, check out this recent post I wrote for Propel Magazine, The Glorious Humility of the Nativity. [/callout]


[reminder]What specific part of Jesus’ birth means the MOST to you this year? I’d love to hear. [/reminder]

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