Plenty of baby Jesus’s to go around

Three of our baby Jesus figures. We have several more, but the kids have already made off with them.

My five- and two-year-old have been “helping” me decorate the house for Christmas this weekend. That means new toys and interesting displays to get into and get in trouble over.

The hottest commodity in our house right now is the Baby Jesus.

When I unpacked several of our nativities, both children instantly grabbed for the baby Jesus figurines. One ceramic baby in a manger in particular sparked a wrestling match as Jackson and Lauren hung on, claiming baby Jesus as their very own.

As I jumped into the fray, I yelled, “Stop fighting! There are plenty of baby Jesus’s to go around!”

My husband chuckled and said with a smirk that might not be the best theological response. I quickly fished out another baby Jesus so each child could hold one, and watched their smiles as they proudly held the baby Jesus and cradled Him close.

Jackson and Lauren each hold their own baby Jesus figurine

There is plenty of Jesus to go around.

Each of us needs to experience Jesus for ourselves. We need to see and feel and hold the baby Jesus in our arms, to personally witness the miracle of His birth and worship Him, like the shepherds and the Magi. That moment will be different for every person, but Jesus will meet us there. He is more than enough for us all. He was born as Savior to all people.

We also must individually experience His love holding us, healing our hearts with His arms outstretched on the cross. In different times and places, we will come to Him, deciding to believe and trust. As our faith begins, Jesus takes up residence in our hearts. When you follow Jesus, He lives in you, just as He lives in me.

There is plenty of Jesus to go around.

This Christmas, that precious baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger, is for us all.

30 minutes

My worn-out running shoes

It took 12 weeks.

To be honest, it took five years and 12 weeks to begin and follow through on what God said to do.

For years I have known I needed to do this. But, I was a professional procrastinator, an expert on rationalization. I was too busy. What would I do with my kids? I’ll focus on that when I have the opportunity to stay home or when the kids are in school. If I just eat better that will be enough. Is it really that big of a deal? And, finally, I just admitted I simply didn’t care.

Too long, regular exercise for me was about getting in shape, looking better and having more energy. I would try a workout video and get bored. I bought a glider and had several spurts to make that a habit and failed. I’m a cheap skate, and I conveniently couldn’t justify spending money to go to a gym.

Finally, at the end of this summer, I chose to listen to what God had been saying for all this time. What changed everything for me had nothing to do with “becoming a better me” or losing weight.

It had everything to do with obedience.

In my spiritual life, discipline is integral to my daily time with the Lord through the reading of His Word and prayer, consistent involvement in our church, and dedication to service in the areas of ministry He has given to me. However, I had somehow separated my physical body from my spiritual life. That discipline in my faith didn’t encompass ALL my life.

Jesus gave it to me straight: Are you going to obey me and become disciplined in this area of your life, or will you choose to directly disobey me?

There could be no more gray. I HAD to choose.

And, I couldn’t bear the thought of deliberately disobeying and disappointing my God.

That very week, one of the blogs I follow pointed my attention to a free e-book on Amazon called Running for Beginners: The Easiest Way to Start Running. God must have prompted me to download it, because I have always despised running. Yet, once I started virtually flipping through the pages, I couldn’t stop until I had finished it. Maybe this was how I could obey God’s command. I talked to Matt that very night about the plan hatching in my head. I told him what God had said to me. He volunteered to join me on this journey.

I started running on Tuesday, Aug. 28. I did eight sets of running one minute and walking 1.5 minutes. Looking back, running only one minute seems so trivial, but it was a HUGE deal for a person who hadn’t exercised consistently since before having children. We followed the plan to the letter, bought a great timer app for our phones, and ran three times a week with the intervals outlined.

In those first few weeks, I had to continually remind myself why I was doing this. God told me to. And, I told Him I would.

Mud run in the pouring rain

So, I ran in the rain and the mud.

Running at dawn

I woke up and hit our gravel lane before the sun had peeked over the horizon, and the morning stars beckoned me on.

Running around and around the church gym

I ran countless laps around our gym at church while my wonderful daughter rolled basketballs around and watched movies. I worked the routine into and around our weekend trips. I ran in shorts and T-shirts, and multiple layers and gloves. As the leaves changed from green to yellow to red to brown, I ran.

Running through fall

I ran to obey my Savior. And, He did a miracle in me.

Today, I reached my goal of running 30 minutes straight, because of Him. I give Him ALL the glory.

Where has God been speaking to you about your commitment to Him? Are there areas of your life that you lack discipline? Chances are that first thought is one God has spoken to you about and for whatever reason you have dodged His command or are dragging your feet.

Obey Him. It is ALWAYS worth it. Even if it seems impossible, He WILL give you the strength you need to complete the task and praise Him in the process.

Start running. And, don’t look back.