Enjoy this Christmas devotion, Show Up at the Manger.

My son Zack is special.

He’s special for all sorts of reasons, but one reason is because he has unbridled enthusiasm. He loves life and he loves it to the hilt.

Show Up At the Manger

Will you show up at the manger this year?

When Zack was very young he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, which is also part of what makes him special and also part of my story today. Zack struggles with emotional regulation, as many people with TBI do.

Let’s just say that on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being pretty boring and 10 being the best thing ever, most things for Zack rank right up there as a 9 or a 10. This sounds pretty great, but have you ever tried living with someone who thinks everything is a 9 or a 10? Let me tell you, it’s not quite as great as it sounds. If getting a new sticker is a 9, imagine what going to a birthday party ranks as for a 4 year old. It sends him spinning right off into the stratosphere!

Zack Make a Wish

Zack during his Make a Wish trip.

Zack Make a Wish Christmas Store

Zack’s visit to the Make a Wish Christmas store at Children’s hospital in Denver. All the kids who have had a wish granted during that year get to choose gifts.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of taking Zack to the Make a Wish Christmas store. Because Zack as a metabolic condition that is life-threatening, he was granted his wish to go on a trip to Disneyworld. As part of that, he also got to go to the Christmas store which includes a free trip to see Santa and to choose a gift for himself and one for each member of his family. Now remember, this is a child who thinks everything is so, so exciting.

Zack Make a Wish Christmas Store

Zack was in melt-down mode.

Can you imagine what a trip to a Christmas store involves? This is beyond exciting! As we were waiting our turn in line, all he could talk about was telling “ho ho” and he wanted a “choo choo” for Christmas. He was getting more and more excited and I was getting more and more nervous that we were headed for a total melt-down right in the middle of all the excitement.

Our turn arrived and Zack excitedly grabbed his bag and took the hand of the couple who were assigned to be his volunteers.

I went to wait at the exit doors with the other Wish parents. We exchanged nervous and knowing glances. We are parents who “get” each other. We don’t leave our kids with others very often, and when we do it’s usually people with lots of letters behind their names and it’s usually not for very happy reasons. I saw kids coming out in wheelchairs and kids who were bald. Kids who were obviously getting healthy and kids who were obviously not.

Zack Make a Wish Christmas Store

We were impressed that Zack got a photo with “Ho Ho” (Santa) without throwing a fit!

Then I saw Zack burst excitedly through the doors with his volunteers with arms loaded down with wrapped gifts. They said he was having so much fun and couldn’t choose just one gift so they let him get extra! He smiled so perfectly for Santa and got the perfect picture.

The volunteers couldn’t believe how happy Zack was. I wiped away tears as they helped me gather my packages and say goodbye. I prepared our things to leave when they came back over with their phones and cameras and asked if they could take pictures of Zack. They said his joy and excitement had just made their whole Christmas.

Would it be okay if they took his picture so they could remember him? Then I really couldn’t stop the tears from flowing! Of course it was okay. They were giving me the gift in that moment.

Make a Wish Christmas Store

The volunteers asked if they could get a picture with Zack because his enthusiasm had made their whole Christmas season.

What the world sees as a weakness, even I as a parent sometimes see as a weakness, God as showing me – He will use as a strength for Zack. God has His plans and His reasons to take what I see as a problem or a situation that is a struggle, to use for His good and His glory.

Friend, show up at the manger, just like the shepherds did that day.

This Christmas, maybe you hope to leave your problems at home. Maybe you hope to leave behind your dysfunctional family situations, your losses, your pet sins, your job situations, your relationship issues, your worries, your grief.

I’m here to tell you — you bring it with you. We all do. But that’s okay.

God wants you to bring it all. God wants all of you and He has plans for all of it – your good and your bad, your whole and your broken, your messed up and your fixed. He can and will use all of it.

This Christmas season, show up at the manger and give it to Him.

{Video Christmas Devotion} Show Up at the Manger


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Show Up at the Manger - A Christmas Devotion