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Day 13 of 26 :: Finally with us.



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“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” 

I grew up with versions of this story being told to me through storybooks and nativity scenes, Christmas plays, and advertisements. 

I remember my mother out in the front yard hitching up the lights for the nativity scene so all who drove by could witness a wooden baby Jesus in a manger on display.  Mind you, our manger scene had Santa Claus kneeling down to see the baby so I know it wasn’t politically correct but hey, we liked to represent everyone at our home. 

But after hearing the story so many times, you start to get this quaint picture in your mind of Mary and Joseph in their stable. You can see Mary rocking the newborn while all the cattle surrounded them with animated smiles on their faces. 

It is very easy to take this story that is pretty strange and make it seem like the perfect little Christmas story for all who hear it. 

The truth is that the circumstances were pretty obscure and far from ideal. The two were waiting alone for Mary to go into labor, not knowing when that would be. The baby was placed in a feeding trough to sub as a cradle for him— a place where animals ate their food from. 

It was likely dark — just the stars above them. And, people… there was no pain relief. No epidurals for sweet Mary. At that moment it was simply her and God, partnered together to bring a crying baby into a weary world. 

I have to burn this picture into my brain to remind myself that God is in the business of using the most unideal circumstances to accomplish his greatest purposes. 

The whole story of Jesus’ birth is completely unassuming. 

It’s anonymous. 

It wasn’t the talk to the town. 

It wasn’t making the news. 

It was a birth that took place in a relatively obscure area— out of sight and tucked away— and it wasn’t until the star appeared did the news actually spread, “Immanuel is here. He is finally, finally with us.” 

I always wonder why. Why so anonymous? Why far out from the crowds? Why in a secret place? 

Because that’s the way our God moves a lot of the time.  

If you are anything like me then you would prefer to skip the “winter” seasons of your own story. You know the type: where God is doing something big inside of you but there’s no way to talk about it. There are no words to declare it. There’s nothing you can really do but stay in the work and allow him to move in ways you cannot take credit for. 

Author Alicia Britt Chole writes, “The Father’s work in us does not sleep– though in spiritual winters he retracts all advertisement. And when he does so, he is purifying our faith, strengthening our character, conserving our energy, and preparing us for the future.”  

Though in spiritual winters he retracts all advertisement. 

That line gets me every time I read over it. 

I believe this is what was happening as Mary and Joseph prepared to give birth to their baby. God was doing something big. Actually, the biggest thing he’d ever done. But it didn’t come into the world looking how we expect the “big things” to look. 


It came simply. 

It came unassumingly. 

It came out of a lowly place, an environment no one would think to enter into looking for a king. 


We cannot discount what God is doing when it feels like nothing is happening. Or no one sees our growth. Or no comments are made on our progress. It is in these parts of the story that we hopefully figure out how to lean into God.  

It is in these spiritual winters where we can learn he is the only audience we need. 

We don’t need all the followers. 

We don’t need all the fancy filters. 

We don’t need all the pomp and circumstance. 

It will never fill. 

It will simply never fill.  

What we need to do is draw close. What we need to do is trust that, even when we cannot see the full story emerging, God is there. He is with us. Immanuel. He is totally and completely with us for the steps ahead.


Luke 2:6-7



Dear God, you do your best work when it seems as though the rest of the world isn’t watching. Within the waiting. Within the winter. Help me to see the purpose within seasons I don’t want to stand in so I can declare your goodness to all who need a fresh reminder of who you are.




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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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