Saturday, December 29, 2012

Most Read Posts for 2012

I have been doing this little blog for almost six years now, which is so hard to believe. As my life has changed, so has the blog. As each season of my life has passed the blog has evolved a little more. In a lot of ways it's nice to have an online journal of all that God has done in my life. And I am so thankful for all of you who have joined me on this journey called life. I wish I could meet all of you! As I looked over the posts for the past year, I would have to say that this year probably saw the most change, and that is reflected in the posts that were most popular with my readers. At the beginning of the year I wrote about our infertility and how I didn't want to waste it. Towards the end of the year I wrote about the precious gift of our twin boys. Both posts were the highest read posts of the year, signifying to me that you, dear readers, have walked this road with us. So I thank you for that. A shared sorrow is truly half a sorrow and a shared joy is double the joy, and in many ways your joy for us has made this news even sweeter.

So here are the top five posts for 2012 on this little blog. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet.

5. The Antidote for Bitterness

4. Interview with Nancy Guthrie

3. Posts on the boys (A Baby Story Part 1 and 2, These Boys Have Names)

2. Treat Her Like Your Sister

1. Don't Waste Your Infertility

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After Christmas

Everyone hates the day after Christmas. It's such a letdown isn't it? After weeks of hype, preparing, wrapping, and singing, December 26th signifies that life goes back to normal until the next Christmas season. Growing up, I was always borderline depressed when December 26th rolled around. It always seemed like it came as fast as it went. I spent so much time anticipating Christmas that once December 26th came I just felt so defeated. As I've gotten older it's been harder and harder for me to be excited about Christmas like I used to be. And when I finally feel like I have the Christmas spirit I am immediately met with it's sudden departure.

It hit me this Christmas that all of the feasting, fellowship, and fun, while wonderful, was never meant to last on this earth. The greatest earthly pleasures we experience during Christmas (and every season) are designed to point us to the eternal pleasure we will experience one day in heaven. We can celebrate with all our might here on this earth knowing that it's only preparing us for an endless celebration one day with the one Christmas is all about.

So as I sit around today surrounded by used wrapping paper, crumpled gift bags, and a myriad of leftovers, I am thankful for the feast we had yesterday, but even more excited about the one to come. And that makes the letdown of December 26th far more bearable.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Lord Gives

The book of Job ministered to me greatly in our season of pregnancy loss and infertility. I would remind myself of God’s goodness and power over my own fragile life as I read about the life of Job. It was only through his suffering that he saw God for who he is. And I wanted (and still want) to be that person as well. Job 1:21 was a lifeline for me. God has the authority to give and he has the authority to take away. Everything I receive, whether good or evil, is ultimately for my good and greater joy. Since I have gotten pregnant I have had a harder time camping out on the fact that “he gives”. While I should be rejoicing in this good gift, I have often doubted his sincerity in giving me this blessed gift. In my worst moments I would only dwell on the second part of the verse. Sure, he gives. But I would dwell on all he could and has taken away.
When Job spoke to his wife in the following chapter he said “aren’t we supposed to expect both good and evil from God?” (Job 2:10). When God takes something away from us, we should not be surprised. But when he gives us good things it shouldn’t startle us either.
When I first got pregnant I kept waiting for God to take the babies away. And I must admit it’s still a near daily struggle for me. While I don’t have a hard time believing that God is sovereign, I do have a hard time believing that this sovereignty means anything but the right to arbitrarily take away every good thing from my life.
In those moments, my thoughts reveal that I fundamentally have a sinful view of God. I am viewing God as a cosmic being who snatches goodness from us just for kicks, instead of believing that he is the gracious and loving God that the Scriptures point to. God delights in giving good gifts to his children. Even Jesus touches on this when he encourages us to consider how much God cares for us, even more than earthly fathers ever could. And this is relevant for how I even prepare my heart for Christmas this year.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas 2013 we are reminded that God is a God who lavishes us with kindness in ways we can’t even begin to count. We should expect good from God, and not only evil. We should believe that he is for our good and not our harm. We should believe that he delights in giving us good gifts year after year.
How do we know this?
The baby born thousands of years ago reminds us of these truths. The fact that God came to earth to save us from our sins is the greatest gift of all. The baby in a manger is a tangible reminder that God is for us, not against us.
And as I sit here with two busy boys having a party in my womb I am overwhelmed by God’s kindness to me this Christmas, but not just this Christmas, every Christmas before it, too. The Christmases of past years were only preparation for the joy I feel this Christmas. They were all a gift from our gracious God. Christmas of 2010 and 2011 were only a prelude to the excitement of this Christmas. It was as if God was saying to me in those years of sadness, “hold on, dear Courtney. I am giving you the gift of suffering, but I am preparing for you the gift of gladness very soon.”

I am praising God today for all the ways he prepared us for this Christmas. And I’m praising him for these two boys that we will meet very soon.
God does give and he does take away—and his name will be praised for all of it. It is through this giving and this taking that I see him more clearly and love him more deeply. And that is how I can bless his name for this Christmas of abundance, and the Christmases of barrenness, too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Are Not Forgotten This Christmas (A Repost)

I wrote this post last Christmas, but I think it's relevant for this one as well. It's easy to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and miss the fact that many people feel very alone and forgotten during the Christmas season. If that is you this Christmas, I pray that this post is an encouragement to you.


For many people the Christmas season is a joyous time filled with family gatherings, way too much (good) food, and an abundance of gifts. But for some, it’s far from the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is only a reminder of what is missing, or broken, or not right. Christmas only highlights the fact that they feel completely forgotten by God.

It’s easy to make that leap if you are walking through a difficult season of your life. The external circumstances are grim and there seems to be no relief at the end of the dark tunnel you are staring down. If this is your life this Christmas season, you have far more in common with the biblical characters surrounding the Christmas story than you might think. The people who make up the birth account of our Christ are a very unlikely cast of characters. They are an old couple who are burdened with childlessness, a poor teenage virgin with a husband from an obscure town, and the Savior himself—born in a manger, not a much deserved royal palace. Christ’s descent to earth was (and still is) a loud call to all of us that we have not been forgotten.

Zechariah and Elizabeth
Consider this unlikely couple. Every external observation implies that they are long forgotten by God. Luke tells us that while they have asked God for a child for many years, they have now reached old age with no child to call their own. In this culture barrenness meant certain reproach for Elizabeth. She would be viewed by her community as defective and unable to do the very thing she was created to do—bring life into the world. When the women around her experienced pregnancy after pregnancy, Elizabeth was an outsider looking into a world she couldn’t know. Zechariah surely faced tremendous pressure also as he cared for his wife, grieved his own loss of having no heir, and fulfilled his God-given duties as priest. While many would give into the temptation to sin by taking the matter into their own hands, or turning from the God who made them, we are given a small glimpse into Zechariah and Elizabeth’s response to their lifelong infertility. They were righteous. They entrusted themselves to a faithful God, believing in his promises to them, and trusting that he would work good in their lives. They hoped in him alone and believed that he was not finished with them yet.

And he wasn’t.

We know from the rest of the story that God answers their prayer for a child, and not just any child, but the child who would be the promised forerunner to the Messiah. This old couple who waited years for God to answer their longing for a child, now have one who plays a pivotal role in the greatest story of history—the story of Jesus.

Mary and Joseph
By the time the angel appeared to Mary, and ultimately Joseph, the people of Israel had experienced over 400 years of silence from God. Many Jewish people died having never witnessed any revelation, prophetic voice, or tangible act from God. And that took its toll on God’s people. Many Israelites turned away, determining that God’s promises could not really be true. Mary and Joseph, who Luke tells us are righteous people, represent the faithful few. They are the ones who held on to the Old Testament promises even when it seemed like God would never act. It was through this seemingly insignificant girl that the Savior would come into the world. In a cave filled with animals, in a small town far away from home, she would give birth to the Messiah with her loyal husband by her side. No one would have expected it from them.

And that is how God works. He takes the forgotten, the outcast, the insignificant and shows them his kindness and greatness by glorifying himself through them, sometimes in some of the most surprising ways.

Christ the Savior
But no one shows that we are not forgotten more than the Savior himself. Isaiah 53 says:

“He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.”

He was momentarily forgotten, afflicted, and separated from God the Father so you would never have to be. That holy night in Bethlehem was moving towards this very reality. Christmas is the precursor to Easter. The incarnation proves that God keeps his promises, and the atonement on the cross seals that promise for good, making us God’s own children. It proves that you are not forgotten because God can never forget his own.

The wonder of Christmas is that we weren’t forgotten. And he showed up in the lives of people who the world viewed as forgotten and of little worth. God became man to rescue us from our sin and bring us into fellowship with himself. He made himself nothing, identifying with lowly and despised people to show that no one is forgotten regardless of their circumstances. You are not forgotten this Christmas, or anytime of the year. The manger where this little baby lay all those years ago is proof of that

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Darkness Does Not Win

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” –John 1:4-5
John 1 is my favorite Christmas passage. The wonder of God becoming flesh is so evident in these verses. And it never gets old to me. John 1 seems especially fitting in light of the recent events in Connecticut. At first glance, darkness seems to be winning. But if John is right, and I believe he is, the perceived triumph of darkness is only an illusion.
In darkness, loss, and evil the light of Christ in the lives of his people can never be put out. Christ only shines brighter when evil gets darker. Think of how much darkness surrounded the Christmas story. The murderous rage of Herod threatened to kill baby Jesus before he even made it out of diapers. His mother and father couldn’t even find a decent place to bring him into this world. He faced an obscure and scandalous birth and yet, his light still shone brightly. And the darkness of the cross was always looming behind the infant cries, shepherds’ wonder, and wise men’s gifts. But the message of John is that this Light, made flesh in a helpless baby, would overcome all of the darkness.
Darkness is no match for the Light of the World.
The good news for us this Christmas, and every day, is that the darkness will not win in our life either. The greatest display of his victory over darkness is seen at the cross. When darkness covered the entire land at the crucifixion, greater things were happening than could be seen in that moment. It seemed like darkness was winning, but Christ, the baby born in Bethlehem, the God-man was single-handedly conquering sin and death. In that moment every darkness we will ever face, whether the darkness of our sin or the darkness of our suffering, was overcome by this Christ. This is what was happening when the Light descended to earth as a little baby.
Isaiah prophesied that the people who walked in darkness had seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). He goes on to tell us who this light is:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

This is who we celebrate this Christmas. And this is who we hope in when darkness seems to hide his work. We, his people, once walked in darkness and have now seen a great light.

Whatever darkness you might be facing this Christmas, whether it’s your own sin or unexplained suffering, John 1 is true for you. The God who made the universe came to earth to defeat the darkness that threatens to undo us. And the good news is this—he has already won. Christmas is the beginning of the victory march. And Easter is not far around the corner.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thoughts from a Reluctant Teacher

Today is my last day with my marriage and family class. It's sort of a two-part goodbye because I had one section yesterday and the other will be today. So I've really been saying goodbye for two days. And while I will be back in January to teach a two week J-term on biblical womanhood, I won't teach Marriage and Family again.

It's a bittersweet moment for me. I have loved this experience, but cannot wait to be a mom to these boys even more. And it's hard to believe that I didn't really want to do it at first.

When we moved to Arkansas we decided I wouldn't look for full-time work. We were really hoping to get pregnant and wanted to eliminate as much pressure as possible. So I substitute taught, and did freelance writing and part-time work from home. Because Daniel's job requires him to travel, I was able to go with him on his work trips. Even though we wanted children desperately, it was a good season for us.

When the teaching job was offered to me I initially thought I wouldn't take it. But after realizing I needed some additional treatment that would postpone our ability to get pregnant, we started reconsidering the teaching position. All I wanted was to have children at home with me, but instead I was going to teach other people's children every day. I thought it would be like every other job I had held the past couple of years.

Boy, was I wrong.

While I was initially less than enthusiastic about it, the idea grew on me. This experience was exactly what I needed. Of all the jobs I have had (and I have had many), it has been my favorite. In fact, many days it doesn't even feel like a job. A few weeks into the semester last year it struck me that God was giving me my hearts desire, just in a different way. I wanted so badly to pour into my own children. I felt like I had all of these nurturing desires that were unmet, and suddenly I was spending every day investing in the next generation.

And I learned a lot, too. Teaching a marriage and family class makes you examine your own marriage. I was exposing my students (and myself) to godly older men and women who had a lot to say about marriage. And in turn, I was convicted and changed. I distinctly remember having a fight with Daniel the night before I was supposed to teach on conflict and communication. Through tears I said, "I can't teach them about this tomorrow when I can't even do it myself!" But the gospel of Jesus Christ was a balm of grace for me in fresh ways as I tried to point them to the One to whom our marriages are designed to model.

God met me in the classroom in ways I never could have imagined when I said "yes" to the job. While I went in with a bad attitude, I am leaving with a plethora of memories, a full heart, and excitement over what God will do in the lives of these students.

What I learned in this past year is that God always knows what he is doing. I loved every minute of this past year of teaching. While I am excited to start this new chapter of my life, I will miss my students. They were an encouragement to me in ways I never anticipated. They welcomed me into their lives. And they rejoiced with me about the new additions in my life.

So on my last day of teaching (sort of), I am thankful to God for the work he did in my life this past year. It's a reminder that even when we don't get what we expect or hope, God is working a thousand details behind the scenes for our good and our joy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Remembering the Wonder of Christmas

I have been working through the Advent book that Desiring God put out this Christmas and have really been enjoying it. It's a doable amount of reading for the day, but it is packed full of truth and insights that I have often overlooked (or completely missed) in the accounts of Jesus' birth. Simeon's prophesy about Christ's life really struck me when I read it again a few days ago.

When Simeon prophesied that baby Jesus would be the cause of the fall and rising of many in Israel he was speaking of us, too. Some will hate him and some will follow him. And while it was abundantly clear at his incarnation that this was true, it's also true in our world today.

We sing of good news of great joy, but we must recognize that this great joy is only for those who have eyes to see. The excitement and wonder of Christmas is just an illusion for those who are blinded to the deity of Christ. That's why it is so serious for those who miss it. It's not just that they have made Christmas too commercial. It's that they have traded the glory of God for a lie. Romans 1 is alive and well in millions of households on Christmas morning. Instead of treasuring the greatest gift of all, our Christ, they marvel and wonder at new gadgets, toys, and stuff that will be outdated in a few months. They worship the created rather than the Creator. As John Piper said, "Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight." Even an indictment clouded by presents, parties, and decorations is still an indictment.

But the danger for Christians is to miss it just like everyone else. While we are no longer under God's judgment and have been given eyes to see the wonder that is Christmas, it's easy to get distracted and forget why we celebrate. Don't get me wrong, presents and traditions are not inherently sinful. Just because we buy presents for our family members doesn't mean we are missing the spirit of Christmas. But it's easy to be mesmerized by everything but the Savior at Christmas time. It's easy to spend more time thinking about our annual Christmas letter, shopping lists, and cookies that need baking rather than quieting our hearts to remember this Savior who came as a baby.

So how do we celebrate amidst all of the chaos of the season? How do we avoid making an idol out of traditions rather than letting our traditions serve to stir our affections for Christ?  Noel Piper has this to say about our traditions at Christmas:

"May our decorations, gifts, and festivities--or lack of them--never block our view of him but always point us toward him" (Treasuring Christ in our Traditions, 88).

As Christians, the way we prevent Christmas from becoming just an illusion of wonder is to remember the reason for our traditions. We delight in giving gifts because God has given us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. We enjoy our family because this is another reminder of the precious gifts he lavishes on us. We eat good food and thank him for the ability to taste and enjoy pieces of his creation. These are all good things. What sets us apart from those for whom Christmas is an stumbling block is that we have eyes to see the Giver of all these things. We don't celebrate the stuff. We celebrate the One who makes this all possible. And most importantly, we celebrate the salvation that was secured for us through this little baby born many years ago.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Waiting on a New Day

When Daniel was in seminary I would often look longingly at the future and say to myself "when he graduates, then we will have a normal married life." Now that seminary is over, and life is still as busy as ever, I find myself saying "when he is full time at the church, then we will have a normal married life." In my mind, a normal married life is defined as free evenings and weekends and a good dose of quality time together. In my worst moments, I have complete meltdowns that this will never happen and our marriage is doomed to failure because we are missing the quality time all the marriage books say is necessary for a healthy marriage. In my best moments, I still long for a better season, one where we can blissfully enjoy our time together without the pressures of life squeezing in around us.

But as I've reflected recently about our 3 1/2 years together, I have started to think that maybe my dream of endless evenings on the couch and weekend outings is a little far fetched. Maybe my perspective is a little askew. I've talked on this blog before about my tendency to make rest my savior, and the unrealistic expectations I brought to this marriage. In the past few months I have started to think that my constant looking towards the future (while good sometimes) is only feeding my appetite for rest and comfort being my ultimate savior.

When I got married I thought (and hoped) we would work our 9 to 5 jobs and then have the rest of our time to play. Seminary was the wrench in that plan. But after seminary I thought surely life would be more free. And while it is different, it's still busy. My husband is a bi-vocational pastor, and his second vocation requires him to travel nearly every week. Couple that with church responsibilities and we are a busy bunch. And now we are about to throw two precious boys into this mix. As time has gone on I've begun to think that this life we live is not necessarily the "new normal", but the normal we were intended to experience all along.

Married couples need quality time, don't get me wrong. But the reality is, for myself especially, that my initial expectation of quality time could hardly be defined as sustainable over the long haul. And I imagine that's the case for many of my friends as well. Husbands work hard outside of the home, sometimes at multiple jobs or for crazy, long hours. Wives work, too. If there are children, both parents might work outside of the home or the mom might work hard in the home. In nearly every case, among my dearest friends and family, life is just straight-up busy, and not for unrealistic reasons. Life is hard. And it costs money. On top of that, as Christians, we are called to work hard in this life. And while we find our ultimate rest in Christ, we still live in a fallen world that makes even the most joyous endeavors (marriage and family) fall short of what we hope for and what God intended. The fact that my husband and I don't spend as much time together as we like, or even sleep in the same bed for seven consecutive nights, is a reminder that his world is not all there is. But it's also a reminder that a better world is coming.

So what are we to do if our expectations for quality time are not met? If your husband travels frequently, soak up the times he is home. If you have 4 kids under the age of 6 and you can't remember the last time you had quality anything, take advantage of the little moments you have for rest and time together. If you are in school, hold on for the breaks and holidays. If your husband is a bi-vocational pastor, be thankful for the time he does have when he is not working to provide for his family or preparing to provide spiritually for his sheep. It's hard, I know. But just because your life looks different than you thought it would, or the way our culture portrays it should be, doesn't mean your marriage is failing. Like I said, a new and better day is coming. Until then, I'm praying I can be thankful for the one God has given me right now. And I'll be the first to admit, it's not always easy to do. But by his grace I hope that my response this year is better than the last.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Learning to Say Thank You

We have all been on the receiving end of insensitive comments from well-meaning people. In fact, I know I have even been the communicator of such comments. The truth is it is hard to know what to say to someone when they are hurting and even harder to know how to respond to the awkward comments. Yesterday, I tried to tackle the issue of our response to hurtful comments in a blog post on the CT women's blog. Here is how I set it up:

"We’ve all faced a barrage of comments from well-meaning friends. And while the words are delivered with the best of intentions, they often sting. In the days, months, and years following my miscarriage and our subsequent infertility, I faced a similar dilemma: Do I shun every person who makes an insensitive or poorly timed comment? Or is there a better way, even if it means my heart breaks a little more each time?

As the one who is hurting and suffering, it is easy to retreat. We are the victims in the situation, aren’t we? Should we really submit ourselves to more pain when life alone seems to be the source of so much heartache?

Sometimes, yes."

I try to encourage those on the receiving end to respond with a "thank you" rather than a "how dare you". To put it another way, part of being a Christian is learning to bear with those who offend us even in the worst of situations. I go on to say:

"The reality is, many people do not know what to say to the woman who can’t get pregnant or who longs to be married but has yet to meet Mr. Right. We often awkwardly approach the mother who loses a child, or our fear of saying the wrong thing prevents us from saying anything at all. The brokenness of this world manifests itself in a variety of ways, including from the mouths of the most well-intentioned among us.

But our response as recipients of awkward or insensitive comments should be one of grace and forbearance. While we are called to bear one another’s burdens as Christians, we are also called to forebear with those who hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally. When we are called to Christ, we are called to a family. And everyone knows that every family is a little dysfunctional—even when our Father is the creator of the universe."

The hope for all of us is that even when those closest to us fail to truly understand us and our pain, we serve a Savior who knows us better than we know ourselves. He will never leave us or say the wrong thing to us. And he is our basis for bearing with those who are less than understanding.

You can read the rest here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas in a Time of Plenty

I have heard it said that it is sometimes harder to focus on Christ in times of blessing than in times of suffering. Suffering has a way of squeezing us, of showing us what is important. Suffering brings us to our knees and forces us to see Christ amidst the pain. And while it is never a path we would choose for ourselves, we know that without it we would not be as conformed into the image of Christ. Suffering is a necessary part of the Christian life, designed by a good God to make us more like him. Blessing can do that for us too, but it takes a little more work, and it’s easy to get lost in the blessing and miss the One who provides every good thing for us. I know it is for me, at least.

This Christmas season looks quite different than the past two Christmases in our family. And if I were completely honest, I miss the hopeful longing that filled my heart in those years. There is something about suffering and loss that makes you depend on Christ in deeper ways. The words of Scripture have such a profound meaning when they are speaking directly to the deep ache in your soul. Christmas in those years, while painful, was also a time of tremendous growth and trust in our Savior. I had to work hard at believing that God’s promise to work good in my life was true. I had to fight for joy in this Christ even when all of my expectations for the season were not met again. This year is the exact opposite.

If you had told me last Christmas that we would be expecting two boys in the coming months I would have probably laughed at you. I couldn’t fathom that pregnancy would happen for us. I couldn’t imagine that our Christmas holidays would be filled with anything but deep longing for God to hear our prayers and give us a child. And now that I am on the other side of that longing, I am finding myself fighting to turn my heart towards the very One I cried out to so many times these past few years.

So how do we celebrate Christmas in a time of plenty? Maybe you are finally free of a painful trial that has plagued you for years. Maybe you are surrounded by family and friends who love you dearly. Maybe your heart is full of joy over all that God has done for you this year. How do you remember the reason for all of your abundant blessings when your cup is overflowing with good things from the Lord?

The stories of the barren women in Scripture have always ministered greatly to me. Their testimonies of faithfulness remind me that pain and loss do not mean bitterness and turning from God. But what has meant more to me this year is their response when God removed their stain of childlessness. When their life turned from empty to plenty they still worshipped and praised the God of it all. They recognized that the same God who closed their wombs saw fit to open them when he did. And it brought them to their knees. Luke records that Elizabeth gave God the glory for her pregnancy. She rejoiced that God saw fit to open her womb, and even her friends were able to rejoice with her. Elizabeth lived the majority of her life barren, yet she praised God in the time of wanting and the time of plenty (Luke 1:24, 57-58). The blessing did not mean that she failed to praise God. In fact, the blessing only heightened her worship of the Creator for his kindness towards her.

Elizabeth likely never forgot all that God did in her life. And not just in giving her a son, but also in the years of waiting. What made her able to praise God in the blessing? God was there not just in her blessing, but in the years of her deepest longings, too. Zechariah and Elizabeth were godly people, who did not depart from following God even into their old age. They saw him work in their lives over many decades. He had surely shown himself faithful to them time and time again. The plenty likely meant so much more to them because they remembered the lean years of barrenness.

That is how we feel this Christmas. While we felt complete and blessed last Christmas, there was still a longing in our hearts for a child. And now here we are. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to worship our great God in these moments of plenty either. God is the author of our barrenness and our plenty. He gives and he takes away. This Christmas we are humbled that he has seen fit to give to us more than we could have even imagined possible.

Christmas in times of plenty might look a little different than in years of wanting, but God never does. He is the same yesterday and today. He is a God who delights to give good gifts to his children, and those gifts come in a variety of packages. Last year, we were given the gift of suffering; this year, the gift of blessing. This Christmas, I don’t want to miss the chance to wonder at his goodness and kindness towards us not only in the answered prayers, but more importantly in the fulfillment of the promise that the greatest gift of all has come. His name is Jesus. He is the answer for all of our longings, and our blessings, too.