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Day 14 of 28: Finally With Us



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Finally With Us

“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 told me through storybooks, 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 to see the baby… I know it wasn’t politically correct, but hey, we liked to represent everyone at our home.

After hearing the nativity story so many times, you start to get this quaint picture in your mind of Mary and Joseph in their stable. An image of Mary rocking the newborn while all the cattle surround them with animated smiles.

It’s the perfect little Christmas story. 

The truth is that the circumstances of Jesus’ birth were obscure and far from ideal. 

Joseph and Mary were waiting alone for Mary to enter labor, not knowing when that would be. 

The baby was placed in a feeding trough— 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 she and God partnered together to bring this baby into the 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 most significant purposes.

The whole story of Jesus’ birth is entirely unassuming.

It’s anonymous.

It wasn’t the talk to the town.

It wasn’t making the news.

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

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

Because that’s the way our God moves a lot of the time. In the obscure winter seasons.

If you are anything like me, you would prefer to skip your story’s “winter” seasons. You know the type: where God is doing something big inside you, but there’s no way to talk about it. There are no words to declare it. You can do nothing but stay 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 advertisements.

I believe this happened as Mary and Joseph prepared to give birth to their baby. God was doing something big. 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 quietly.

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 God’s actions when it feels like nothing is happening. Or no one sees our growth. Or no comments are made on our progress. In these parts of the story, we hopefully figure out how to lean into God.

In these spiritual winters, 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 closer. We must trust that God is here even when we cannot see the complete story unfolding. He is with us. Immanuel. He is totally and completely with us for whatever is coming next.


Luke 2:6-7

Steal This Prayer

Dear God, you do your best work when it seems the rest of the world isn’t watching. Within the waiting. During the winter. Help me see the purpose in 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.

I Love Hearing from You!

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Carlos says:

    Thanks Hanna fot your blog. Your thoughts are very encourage yo me. God bless You with His Grace and Guide.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Your advent series this year has given wonderful insight into Jesus birth story and much needed encouragement to my soul. It’s uncanny how each day’s reading has deepened my understanding about and reinforced various areas God has been working in me. Thank you, Hannah, for following where God leads you.

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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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