Journey to the Manger: Sheep

Jackson pretends to be a sheep. listening carefully to his shepherd (dad) for direction.

Jackson pretends to be a sheep. listening carefully to his shepherd (dad) for direction.

Today we visited a flock of sheep on our Journey to the Manger.

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep.

– Luke 2:8



Sheep need personal care, even in the middle of the night. This particular night, shepherds were watching over their flocks, keeping them safe from any danger lurking nearby, allowing their animals to rest peacefully. Sheep thrive under the attention of a good shepherd who will lead them to green pastures and still waters, who will tend their wounds and bring them back to the fold if they wander off.

God refers to people as sheep throughout Scripture. We are in desperate need of shepherding, protection and care. That’s why God sent His Son.

I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep…My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

– John 10:14-15, 27-28

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He knows us, even the parts we wish we could hide. He loves us, and makes Himself known to us. Jesus loved us so much, that He laid down His life to rescue us.

Sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and follow him. Today we pretended we were sheep following our shepherd’s voice. Jackson put on a blindfold, got down on his hands and knees, and listened carefully to his dad’s instructions to make it around the living room. At first, Jackson was very nervous about putting on the blindfold and trying this activity. We had to reassure and remind him that he can trust his daddy to keep him safe, that Matt would not steer him wrong. That encouragement was what he needed to put on the blindfold.

Listen for the Savior this Christmas. Trust in His care and direction. We, as sheep, are secure when we follow our Shepherd.


Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Smashing fingers

In a pinch

In a pinch

A painful scream sent me sprinting into my daughter’s bedroom. She turned to me wailing and crying, and it took me a beat to figure out what was wrong.

Lauren stood with her little fingers wedged between a drawer and the dresser, and she couldn’t get them out.

I had sent her into the room a few minutes before to get some socks so we could get ready to go into town. The trip was delayed as I yanked the drawer open and scooped a weeping girl into my arms.

It took numerous kisses and quite a bit of snuggling before the sting started to wear off.

Many of us, right now, are caught in expectations, frustrating circumstances, grief, uncertainty and loneliness. We are stuck in tired routine, fake friendships and marriages barely hanging on.

And yet, we are adept at burying the pain and pasting on a smile, while our fingers pulse from being smashed in the dresser drawer.

All we must do is cry out, just open our mouths and scream. Instead we suck it up and continue to purposely live in the pain.

Why must we pretend, when confession will give us release from the trap we are in?

God is our protector, our strong right arm, our shelter. He is ever waiting for our cry to rise up and defend us against our enemies. He is watching for our movement back to home, ready to run and pull us into His embrace. His forgiveness and grace are ready.

Our Savior has also given us His body here on earth, the church, where there are so many who love us, will stand by us and will see us through.

The only reason I knew Lauren needed my help is because she screamed. Chances are, the person sitting beside us in Sunday School won’t know the depths of our hurt either if we never reveal it.

Take a deep breath, and let it go. Cry out to the Lord for rescue and redemption. He will answer, and come rushing through the door to pry our fingers out of the drawer. He longs to hold us in His arms and remind us of His great love.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

– 1 Peter 5:7

God also wants us to share our burdens with our spiritual family. Allow them to help, even after release. The consequence and sting of the trap may not leave right away, and we need Christian brothers and sisters to walk with us as we recover.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

– Galatians 6:2