This past Sunday, our family again made our annual trip to Boyd’s Christmas Tree farm to pick out a tree.

It was a lovely day — sunny and just cool enough to warrant jackets and mittens (at least for me). We found our tree, and Allie visited Santa. There were only a few squabbles along the way — mostly in jest. All poop piles were avoided, though we saw LOTS of dogs! And we were able to take a few lovely photos without too much irritability.


Once home, the tree was put up without a hitch, and Bill strung the lights. We decorated before nightfall, and Prancer (our one year old English Cream Golden Retriever) has only managed to chew up two ornaments, at least that we’re aware of.


This Sunday, we enter the Advent Season — my very favorite time of the year. And I’m thinking today about God’s grace, which covers me daily.

A few moments ago I got out my wallet to pay the ferrier, who’d come to trim our horse’s hooves. And I was reminded again of the beauty of our messes — how Redemption arrived in the flesh in a messy barn many years ago.

Yes, it came in the form of a baby named Jesus…


(The following was originally published in 2015, but it still holds true today — in more “messy” ways than one.)

The other day while shopping for things at Staples to help me get organized at home, I took note of a woman standing behind me in the checkout line. Well, it wasn’t actually the woman that grabbed my attention — though she was a nice looking, older lady. In honesty, it was her wallet that caught my eye. She had it open, anticipating her turn at the register. As I stuffed cards and phone and keys into my sling purse that’s becoming frayed at the edges and is a tad hole-y — NOT in the spiritual sense — I noticed her neat, organized, everything-has-its-place wallet, and in that moment I think I heard it say to me, “You’re a mess!” Because I am. Truly.

Tis the season, after all. The season for honesty. For truth spoken. For messages uttered in unexpected places. From unexpected sources.
Yes — TRUTH.

Today, my family visited Boyd’s Christmas tree farm — probably our fifth consecutive such excursion. We were blessed with a tree that is perfect, just as long as one doesn’t venture behind it to see the gaping hole that’s tucked into the corner and which warranted it being “discounted” among the other 8-9 foot Douglas Firs. Half off, in fact. A bargain. Once decorated and turned just so — Perfect!

Like us. Imperfect for sure but perhaps looking pretty good to those who see just from a particular perspective. The one I allow. Reveal. Permit.

As I look at the pictures I posted from our outing earlier today, I’m thankful — because YES, we succeeded in finding a nice tree. We had a good time. We returned home and, over the course of several hours, hung the lights (That’s Bill’s job!) and decorated it. Tree is standing proudly in our living room — tucked into its corner in just the right way to conceal its gaping hole and thinned out branches. To all who enter, Tree exclaims, “Merry Christmas!” Indeed, Tree is beautiful!

What my earlier post doesn’t reveal is the argument that Bill and I had just prior to loading into the van.
It doesn’t speak of the bickering among our children as they sat cramped in the backseats with a panting, geriatric Golden Retriever.
It doesn’t account for the dog poop Allie stepped in along the way that wafted through the air…
Or the dog poop that I scooped up into a Walmart bag and held in my hand as I trekked up the hill.
It doesn’t proclaim the disagreement we had about which tree to purchase…
Or speak of the fussing that occurred as we attempted to snap some photos with our family and two large dogs once home — tripod set and the count down… 5-4-3-2-1… SNAP!… with dogs looking in other directions or licking themselves while one (or more of us) scolded another in the family, saying — SMILE!
The post didn’t capture the two eggs that Allie knocked off the counter in her attempt to get a bowl from the cabinet. (Have you TRIED to clean up raw egg from off a hard wood floor?)
And there’s no evidence of the shelf that fell off the wall when I closed a door — sending a glass knick-knack flying and shattering on the tiled laundry room floor… glass everywhere.

So — let’s just be down right honest here
My wallet has NEVER looked like the lady’s at Staples. In fact, I fumble when I try to find my credit card because it’s never (or rarely) in the same spot twice.
The supplies I chose and then purchased will likely help me get organized sometime by mid-2016. (Probably!)
The chaos in my home right now as we de-decorate from autumn and begin to decorate for Christmas is… well… CHAOS. (There’s really no other word for it.)
I’m not really aware of the “calm before the storm” but am more familiar with the “storm before the calm” — believing by faith that, in time, all the boxes and tissue and flurry of debris will subside and usher me into the peace that I long for during the Advent season…

A time when I wait. And wonder. And pray. And cry…
Expecting the arrival of One who didn’t come in the comfort of pristine…
But in a dimly lit, dusty barn — surrounded by animals and their droppings and a flurry of fur.

Tucked just so in a manger in an imperfect, tiny town called Bethlehem — despite the reality of chaos — the One who came in a miraculous way no matter HOW you look at it was and is and always will be, in all honesty…
His beauty was proclaimed first by, of all people, the homeless shepherds who were abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. The message of Love announced to the desperate by such unlikely folk.

Oh yes — I’m waiting for Your arrival, Jesus. And I see you in each and every twinkling light upon my discounted, imperfect tree — the fingerprints of those I love the most, second only to You, upon each bow.

You ARE the Light of the world — the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.
Oh, come, Lord Jesus.