My mother-in-law and I make one last run to the grocery store for a few items handwritten on a scrap of paper. The back seat holds brown paper bags from Trader Joe’s; the floor, a gallon of milk. Idling longer than usual, waiting for a break in traffic to turn left onto a busy street, I become uncomfortable.

A man stands outside my window holding a Chihuahua with sad, dark eyes to his chest and a cardboard sign handwritten with his own list. A makeshift bed is rolled up and strapped to his back.

Worn boots and a dirty rucksack sink into a grassy patch of Arizona desert on the fringes of a parking lot bustling with activity. Grocery carts clanging on cement, full of poinsettias, camembert and slabs of beef.

I glimpse his small eyes hidden underneath shaggy strands lying on leathery cheeks.  The longer we sit in the car and wait, truth convicts.

“Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:37-40)

We both reach to the floorboard for purses; quickly scour the contents for something to give him while holding the tension of ticking seconds as cars pile up behind us.

As I roll down my window, a little girl in shorts runs toward  the stranger with a bag of snacks identical to the one already open in front of him. He bends down eye level, gently thanks her. And I call out, “Sir” with my arm extended out the window.

His eyes, I see they are genuine and thankful as he walks closer and receives our small offering. We are connected by the universal unspoken language: a smile of empathy.

I don’t want to miss Jesus waiting for me to notice him. You? Because lately, it seems he is showing up everywhere — cafe tables, parking lots, check out lines, street corners, living rooms — and beholding his countenance is glorious.

As you celebrate Christmas under the glow of twinkle lights with your family, may you experience the arrival of hope in the ways only He knows you will notice.

Merry Christmas!

I’m so thankful for the gift of your presence with me along this writing journey over the past three years. I look forward to unfolding some of the things God is laying on my heart, not just for me but for us in 2015. Subscribe here for future posts.

As I celebrate God’s faithfulness to us during this waiting season, I’m mindful of those who are lonely, isolated and struggling with hardship. If that is you, I want to be a friend of Jesus to you by reminding you that you aren’t alone in your struggle, He is with you. Respond to this email and let me know how I can pray for you. It’s my small offering to you with great expectations.