“You better watch out,

You better not cry,

you better not pout, I’m telling you why….

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Ever wonder how our modernized Santa Claus ended up with many of the same attributes as God? Not only some attributes, but Santa also has the same judgmental, “you’ll get what you deserve” attitude that many Christians mistakenly believe about our Father God.

santa godI think our modern, commercial, very American Santa, is a bit of a stalker. He watches us when we are sleeping, and knows when we’re awake? For a  jolly fat guy who is supposed to love children and bring them their most desired gifts, his love seems rather conditional and based solely on a child’s performance.

Our modern Santa is a total contrast to the real St Nicholas. We know very little about St. Nicholas and legends about him abound. He was born in A.D. 280 in what is now modern Turkey, to Nona and Epiphanius. His parents were neither poor, nor rich, but devoted Christians during a time of persecution. He was named after, and educated by his uncle Nicholas, who was a Priest. His  parents died while he was quite young and left him a modest inheritance. He followed in his uncles footsteps and also became a Priest. History tells us that at one time he was imprisoned for his faith.

tumblr_meohxsuv811r11kw2He became a legend for championing the cause for the poor and needy.  As is typical for Christian legends, much about him was paganized, while paganized pieces about him became Christianized. His legend grew to include various methods of transportation to serve the poor, and his legend was carried worldwide. At first banned by the Puritans, the Dutch colony would later keep St. Nicholas alive. Our first written record of him dates back to December 23, 1773, almost one-hundred-fifty years after the Dutch brought him to New York City.  Interesting to note, the tradition of the Dutch is to exchange gifts one week preceding Christmas, keeping the day of Christs’ birth separate and holy.

St. Nicholas pointed to Christ, and he had the heart of Christ in his service to the poor and needy. He didn’t reward the good and punish the bad, but he sought to reflect the love of the Christ, by caring for the needs of the poor.

Baker_artThis is the first year I have really embraced Advent, and in doing so, I have embraced the anticipation and reverence of what the birth of the God-Man means to me, and to humanity. I think I have a tiny taste of what the Jews must have felt as they waited for the promised  Messiah. Yet, so many looked right into His eyes, yet never saw Him; listened to Him speak, but never understood His words.

So it is with so many Christians today.

Just like Santa Claus, we come to Him believing that He will “reward” those who believe, yet they live in fear that if they do something wrong, He will remove all of His promised gifts.

He will remove Himself.

I can’t help but wonder if our Americanized/ modernized version of God and Santa Claus have influenced by each other.

unhappy holy day 2Our society is performance oriented – much of the world is. You have to strive to get an education, strive to get a job, strive to get promotions, strive to make a good salary. Persecution of minorities, and majorities abound… The list goes on and on.

We come to Christ like children, eager to learn about the God who accepts us as we are, and loves us unconditionally. But all too soon, performance requirements enter in – either placed upon us by our peers, church, or by ourselves. We learn the bible and in our own interpretations of the scriptures, work towards becoming what we think we now have to become.

We forget what the story is really about. We forget who we are, and who we are in Christ. 

We begin to fear that God is displeased with our performance. Maybe now, I am on His naughty list, maybe I need to go to the altar and get it right, or work harder at changing who I am. Maybe I got the wrong tree.

unholy holy day 3 linus After all, He sees me when I’m sleeping, He knows when I’m awake, and He knows if I’ve been bad or good, so be good…

We are given the free gift of Christ but our nature to strive takes over. We are set up as young children to “be good” or be left out.

God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden totally accepted and at peace. All of life was a gift to them.

A gift. 

They didn’t need to work, compete, strive, or perform.

They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loved them, wholly, and completely. 

Then that all ended, and when it did, life was no longer lived as a gift. Sin brought in the pain of strife, work, competition, death, fear, rejection, performance…

For thousands of years all of humanity held their breath as they waited for the promised Messiah to come, and change the rules that were set in motion on that terrible day. One day, born in a stable, it happened – Immanuel.  God with us.

Jesus Christ came to take away the barrier of that prevented us from living our lives as a gift. 

The effects of sin – the toil of living in this fallen, difficult world will be with us until the end of the time, but the spiritual work is abolished! 

Farm and Christmas barnFrom his birth in a humble barn, to serving, healing, feeding, caring for, and teaching others, He lived a life of simple humility.  As St. Nicholas pointed to Jesus, the Christ pointed to the love of the Father. He modeled being connected to the Father simply by who He was.

And then He told us we also are children of God, and that Abba, Daddy, our Father – adores us. Whether or not we are good or bad, we are accepted in the Beloved when we place our total trust in Him.

All around the world we see the word “Believe” in reference to Santa Claus, but God is saying to us “believe.” 

The cross is not covered by a Santa’s hat, but by a crown of thorns. 

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Ever.

His gift to us this Holy season is His presence. 


Twenty-Four Years and Twenty-Four Months – Advent Expectation

What we are doing is often mistaken as a mark of a mature Christian more than who we are becoming.

Advent is all about expectation.

IMG_7550Second only to the coming of Jesus, our greatest expectation should be who we are becoming as disciples of Jesus.

Twenty Four Years ago today, December 10th,  I buried my infant son.

Twenty four months ago, the effects of the traumatic loss were drastically, dramatically, and painfully revealed for the last time, when I experienced an event that triggered that time in my life.

For eight years previous to the event of two years ago, a lifetime of suppressed grief had finally begun to heal, and heal deeply. Twenty-four months ago the wound was badly re-injured, revealing the need for it to be permanently closed.


The work of grief and the work of “being,” as an important aspect of Christian growth, has been replaced by doing. We are too busy, too, too rushed, too broke, too involved, too stressed, too overwhelmed, have too many commitments – simply too “over-everything,” to actually slow down enough to sit at the feet of Jesus and give ourselves time to feel.

“Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us. The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.” Henri Nouwen

I see this most clearly at this time of the year – a time which represents the birth of the King of Kings, and the second coming of the Prince of Peace. It is a time to be still, to know, and to be.

Twenty -Four 1It is a time to heal the fragments of relationships and the fragments of our soul.


You can’t heal, from what you can’t feel. It is like a person with nerve damaged feet, trying to prevent frostbite when they can’t feel the cold. The damage has already been done when it becomes visible.

So it is with pain.

To feel means pain, and pain is a hindrance to the false image of our ability to handle everything that is thrown at us. We are over-medicated, overindulged, over committed, and over extended. Somehow, “busy” has become the new answer to, “How are you?”  

The results?  Anxiety is now the number one reason for doctor visits.

Busy keeps us from having to delve deeply into who we are. Busy keep us from becoming Christ-like.

What we are doing, has become more important than who we are becoming. Success is measured in events, toys, jobs, careers, sports, church growth, money  – all things which represent our own image instead of the image of Jesus.


We see the 80/20 principle applied here – 20% of people are doing all the work in a church or ministry, while 80% are not doing any of the work. I have to stop and wonder how many of the 80% are doing it because they are driven – falsely finding themselves in the work they do, instead of in Christ.

I’ve been there. I lived there after Micaiah died. My kids were raised there. Work. Do. Don’t be. Don’t see.


IMG_7577Christian references often reflect this mentality:

“They are committed members of the church…attending every service, as well as helping every time the doors are opened. They tithe faithfully, and have been Sunday school teachers for 15 years. You cannot find more willing servants in the church anywhere.”

That is a great reference,  but it wouldn’t tell me who a person is, just what they do. Actions don’t always speak to the depth of a person’s relationship with God, or with each other.


What would happen if someone wrote a reference that said, “I have never met a more Christ-like person in my life. Each year I have seen him/her change more into the image and likeness of Christ so I know that surely they have been with Jesus.”


Twenty FourTwenty four months ago Jesus began to close my healing wound for good.  He said, “Look in there, Jamie and tell me what you see.”  I tried to avoid it – as I had been avoiding it for a long, long, time. I didn’t like what I saw. I had avoided the pain of the death of our son, the PTSD label, the traumatic grief, the spiritual abuse, the shame – for so many years that it had festered into something ugly. Something more painful than the death itself. Eight years ago I accepted and acknowledged it for what it was.

Eight years ago the healing began.


But twenty-four months ago, Jesus was asking me to see myself with the same love and forgiveness that He did. He wanted me to look into the raw wound and see grace. To forgive myself for the years of traumatic grief that my children endured; for the years of loss and pain and legalism, and anger.

“Even when I’ve hurt the ones I love most Lord?”  “Especially when you’ve hurt the ones you love the most.”


“But Jesus, you never had to forgive yourself, you were perfect in relationship.” “Exactly. So sit here quietly with me. Do not move, or work. Be with me. Just be. ”


Jesus revealed the years we confused works with growth, quiet for peace, happiness for joy, sin management for grace filled acceptance. He taught me not to confuse religious expectations with genuine friendships, or to accept wearing a mask in the place of His grace.  I no longer confuse Christians with Christ, or aspire to be someone else who I thought was more spiritual than I.


I am the most spiritual person I know.

After all, I am the only person I know.


And only Jesus really knows me. He is enough.

Dave is next, and Jesus reveals Himself through Dave to me, and through me to Dave. Such is the way of love that has endured the floods and fires together.  It becomes a bond made of Titanium.

Unbreakable. Unstoppable.


For wounds to close, we have to be still. We have to be willing to sit with Jesus long enough for Him to speak into our healing.


My son was born, and died, during the second week of advent; the week most commonly known as the week of Love, Peace, or Expectation.

IMG_7564Without the pain, I couldn’t know  deep joy.

Without the pain, I wouldn’t know true Hope.

Without the pain, I couldn’t know the healing given by the Son of God, born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Immanuel – God with us.


“The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth — the very thing the whole story has been about.” — C.S. Lewis

Happy Birthday Micaiah James.  I wait with expectation.  “I’ve never been more homesick than now…” Mercy Me