do you see Him? He’s here with us…

originally posted 12.30.2011

before i begin i want you to know,
i humbly took these images of a gorgeous new home around the corner from my own home.
i contacted a family member related to the home owner &
asked if i could have permission to write about what i saw.
the images & the poignancy of this site.
these images break my heart…
however i also see HOPE here.
& that is exactly what He wants you to see too…
this was obviously to be someone’s dream home.
i envision plans & details layed out on a kitchen table for quite sometime
until this gorgeous home came to fruition.
it was stacked stone & gorgeous
a circular drive
a large pool in the back.
i had never gone inside but knew it was to be on the tour of homes
for the highschool my girls attend…
then just before thanksgiving, it burned to the ground.
all those dreams, all the newness
it’s truly a horrific site to see the remains of a fire.
it’s frightening and dark
it hurts your heart whether you knew the home owners or not.
years of personal belongings & dreams
a few weeks after the fire
dan asked if i had noticed the manger scene.
i was quite certain it had not been up prior to the fire.
sure enough, it was built after the home burned down.
the sides of the structure….were the sides of her grandchildren’s bed…after the fire.
(the grandchildren also put up the Christmas tree for the homeowner after the fire)
the thought that a nativity scene was built
the fire.
after the horrific incident.
out of the mess
out of the seemingly hopeless situation
there sat the manger.
right in the middle of all the mess
sat the manger.
i pondered on how symbolic that scene was.
how powerful.
what a true picture of how He came.
He left Heaven’s throne
where angels sing Holy Holy Holy to Him
never ceasing praise.
He left that
to come into our world
your world.
if you have ever thought your sin was too big
or your past was too dark
your heart was too far gone
or the things you’ve done are too messy for Him.
it’s not.
they’re not.
is too far gone for Him.
she was an unwed pregnant teenager
he was a simple carpenter.
he figured he’d honor her & go ahead and marry her
but divorce her quietly later.
she claimed she was a virgin
& that the Holy Spirit came upon her
& that she would deliver the savior.
the one they had waited long waited for
to free her people.
no one believed her.
of course no one believed her.
what a scandal.
they thought their savior was to be a mighty warrior
that he would come to the golden power city Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was the holy city where the temple was located.
they sure weren’t expecting a baby…
in Bethlehem.
nothing good came from Bethlehem.
mary & joseph were traveling & realized she was soon to give birth.
it actually didn’t happen in a barn
it was a hollowed out indention in the mountain
where animals could hide for shelter.
there was yuck there, messy smelly animal yuck there.
it was not clean nor was it quiet.
it was dark and messy.
an angel shows up to shepherds.
shepherds were smelly & dirty & poor.
the shepherds were tending to the sheep
that incidentally were being raised and would be taken to Jerusalem
for sacrifice for people’s sin.
are you following this?
how amazing is that detail.
the first people that found out that their savior
promised about 400 years earlier
had been born
were the shepherds tending to the sheep
that were the sacrifice for sins.
yet HE was to be THE final sacrifice for sins.
i love that detail!!
the shepherds weren’t even allowed in the temple
HE came to them.
not in a fancy church with perfect pews & a steeple
to them.
out in their filth & dirt.
on a dark night.
THE light came to them.
majesty in the mess.
that’s how He came.
if you have ever felt you couldn’t make it to God
please know
that Jesus
& that my friends
is the HOPE of glory.
the HOPE that all will be made right one day.
the HOPE that you were never alone.
as i drove around the back of this home that dark dreary rainy day
it took my breath away
to see the cross from the church across the street
through the burned down ruins of this home.
the cross, the scene of his death, on one view.
the manger, the scene of his birth on the other view.
the cross
the reminder that HE came
oh He came alright,
not to who “they” thought
or to where “they” thought
but He came
& then He gave His life.
no more slaughtered sheep
no more blood of any clean animals.
He was the perfect sinless one.
He gave His life for us.
& love
all right there
to view
through the dark charred mess
He was there all along.
majesty in the mess
hope in the midst of a storm
or a fire
or cancer
or divorce
or unemployment
or famine
or fear
God with us.
do you see Him?
He is Emmanuel
He is here with you…
& to the homeowners
my prayers are with you
as you rebuild your home & your hearts

my prayer is that my life, my words & actions, my home
glorifies the Lord.
that whatever glimpse you get into my life
through reading these simple thoughts i have
while some days it’s a silly thought
some days it’s heartfelt
that He is glorified.


isaiah 61.3
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


December 14, 2012 - 7:55 am

Lori H - Thanks for sharing this again, Paige. I have been gathering things to read to my family as an informal advent discussion. I will have them read this. Your words and photos tell it all.

December 14, 2012 - 8:15 am

Kelly - Praise God!!! He is the Light- such a powerful reminder of Emmanuel, which I needed so much today. Close friends are grieving the loss of their adopted child to suicide yesterday(after losing two biological children 10 years ago to a plane crash), and I need the reminder that God is with us. He comes to us, in our grief and heartbreak. He is with us, always.

Love this poignant visual reminder. Thank you for sharing your heart.

December 14, 2012 - 10:11 am

Melaine - Wow, how can I not comment on that? Beautifully written my friend. Those photos bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Melaine

December 14, 2012 - 10:22 am

Amy Avery - I needed to read this again this morning. I remember this post from last year and how it brought so much forward in me that what is important is our faith in the Christ. I wonder why it is that it is so hard to keep that in the for front of our minds at this most blessed time of year? Is it the buzz of the world around us that drowns out the sound of God’s voice embracing us with love? This family gave such a true show of faith in displaying this scene in the midst of such heartache. They showed great courage in acknowleging that despite their angst in losing their home their true home is in CHrist Jesus. Thank you for sharing this post again. It has blessed me and soothed my anxious heart.

December 14, 2012 - 11:43 am

Wendy - Just beautiful…

December 14, 2012 - 11:48 am

Kristin Wohlust - This is truly your most beautiful of posts ever written.
Hopefully, with your permission I can share this post that says it all.
Please let me know if it’s OK?
I love you friend.

December 14, 2012 - 11:48 am

laurie overholtzer - Paige, I remember reading this last year, but it was still as powerful today. You are a great photographer, but you are equally talented as a writer. You need to publish a book of inspirational stories. The Lord has blessed you with such talent!

As a side note, I was wondering if the family ever rebuilt?

December 14, 2012 - 11:49 am

Kerri - Thanks for posting this again this year Paige. It is a wonderful reminder to us of WHY we celebrate this season. I saw the sweet pics of SMK at the airport…praying for her this week!

December 14, 2012 - 2:47 pm

carrie - beautiful (re)post! did you see it lately? they are building it back. it’s almost done! as gorgeous as it was before, it’s even prettier now. how’s THAT for a rebirth? He can make all things new and better in His time. 🙂

December 14, 2012 - 6:12 pm

Brenda - I missed this post last year, but it’s amazing. Thank you for sharing again!

December 14, 2012 - 6:26 pm

tiffani - Amen!!!!! How timely on this tragic day in CT. May the Lord be with these families as they struggle to understand. Praising HIM for his wonderful grace and mercies even in the midst of tragedy. Merry Christmas!

December 14, 2012 - 6:48 pm

Jackie - Beautiful. Thank you.

December 14, 2012 - 7:18 pm

Mrs.B - Beautiful.
That’s exactly what I thought when I came to the pic of the cross.~
“That takes my breath”, then I read your words.
What an amazing, awesome God…even in all our messes.

December 14, 2012 - 8:54 pm

cel - Paige, this not could be more true today as we mourn the tragedy in Connecticut, when you wrote this who would have known what a sad day it was to be- thank you

December 16, 2012 - 6:04 pm

Pennie Jackson - So heart wrenching but oh so lovely all at the same time, such honesty and wisdom in those spoken words. Thank you

December 17, 2012 - 10:39 am

Isabel - Simply beautiful……. No words needed.

December 17, 2012 - 5:52 pm

tara - i remember that post….
powerful to see the church cross and the manger scene…
God is with us…always.

December 18, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Kimberly Moody - Paige, I loved this post last year and am so glad you reposted. You are such an inspiration to me. Wishing your beautiful family the best Christmas ever!! Kimberly