Monday, December 21, 2009

In Bethlehem That Night

"She brought forth her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid
him in a manger; because there
was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mary, Mother of Jesus

In the business of this month it is so easy to forget to stop for even a moment to ponder why we celebrate Christmas. To think of how Mary felt when she learned that she was the one God had chosen to give birth to the Messiah, and later how she felt as she held her firstborn son for the very first time!

It is so easy to forget that Mary was a young woman like me. She had dreams and hopes for her future. Never once could she have guessed that God would choose her to be the mother of Jesus. Never could she have imagined the joy and sorrow her life would hold.

I like to imagine that it was just another ordinary day. Mary was joyfully doing everyday chores. She may even have been dreaming of her soon to be marriage to Joseph and how her life would change when she became his wife. I can see her now. She was humming a sweet little tune as she swept the floor. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes held that sparkle. She may have been dreaming of holding her first child. Rocking the wee one and singing a lullaby. She cared not whether she had a boy or a girl. She knew she would be overjoyed with either. Right in the midst of these thoughts Gabriel arrived on the scene.

Mary must have been shocked and confused about why Gabriel was and there, and who he was. Imagine her further shock when Gabriel said,

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son..."

"What? What did you just say? A baby? Me, have a baby? Me? Are you sure you have the right Mary?" I can just imagine her saying. "Why me? Of all the women in the world, why me?" She must have wondered.

What impresses me is that she did not throw a fit or complain the least little bit about how this news would ruin all she had planned (as I feel sure I would have been tempted to do). No, she stood back in awe and said:

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever" (Luke 1:46-55).


There is so much unsaid. So many aspects of the story that are not covered. Every year when I re-read the story of Christ's birth I come away with so many questions. What was Mary's parents reaction to the news? What did they say and do?

It seems likely that Mary would have been shunned by certain groups of people because only the worst sorts of women became pregnant out of wedlock. When I think of all that Mary had to go through. All the hardships, all the sorrow and pain, I am determined that she was indeed a woman of great faith. A woman who leaned on the Lord through it all. How else would she have been able to bear it?

I sometimes wish that the Bible's account would have been longer and more detailed. For surely there is a lot that we could learn from Mary, mother of Jesus, chosen by God.

This Christmas I encourage you to make your own study of Mary. To put yourself in her shoes. To imagine all that she went through and ask yourself if you could have had faith such as she did. Ask yourself how you would have dealt with raising a Son that others would mock and scorn, a Son who would be unjustly crucified. Read between the lines and learn about a woman who was truly strong.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is It Okay If I Scream Now?

I have felt like pulling my hair out more then once this last week. Between working and trying to get numerous Christmas projects done, and feeling more then a little tired, I am sure you can understand any motives I might have for yanking out every one of my hairs. Thankfully, God has been a with me through it all, though I must admit to pushing Him onto the back burner more then a time or two, something I am not proud of.

The other night I was stressed out. I was asking myself how I was ever going to get done all the things I want to do, and need to do, and still keep my hair in place. I moaning silently to God, "I cannot do this anymore. I am too tired." Then verses came to mind reminding me that I have had my priorities all mixed up again. I had been allowing things to come between me and God, and until I pulled my focus back to Him, things would continue to be stressful and would continue to give me the desire to scream and pull my hair out.

Time and again since I began blogging I have written on this very topic. On how nothing in life goes right if God is not only in it, but the center of it. When I read over my passed posts, I laugh at how I can say the same thing in so many different ways. Anyone who has been following my blog will see very quickly that the one thing that bothers me most is my inability to keep my focus on God all the time. I know it is only human to sruggle with this, but that does not keep it from bothering me, or keep me from striving to do better in keeping my focus on Him more fully.

Like I was saying, my life has been rather hectic, but when I look at these last few weeks, I realize that many of those hair-pulling moments were of my own making. I would put something off, or try to do a hundred and one things all at the same time, when I did not need to, or I would push my quite time to the back burner, when I knew my day would go horrible if I did. Now I am sitting here writing and shaking my head at myself. Why was I so foolish? Why did I cause myself so much stress and worry? Answer: I do not know, other then I am a human being who has a very small brain that does not function half as well as I like to think it does.

I stand in awe of the mighty God I serve, and am thankful anew each day that He has His hand on my life and is always, always in control of everything that is happening in our crazy world. Once more I am placing my life, all this craziness, all the worries, in His hand. I am thanking Him for His grace, His love, and the way He makes everything better if I will only give Him the chance.

I have been very bad this last little while about writing to you, and for that I am sorry, but as I said, things have been crazy, and even if it was partly my own doing, what was, was, and it cannot be changed now. I hope you will all be understanding if posts are a little more spread out this month, because no matter what, December is always a busy month for me. It is probably my favorite month of the year. I love finding extra ways to show my family I love them, I love helping set up the tree, wrapping presents, and all those little things that make remembering Christ's birth so special. I love celebrating God's gift to us all month long and remembering (and reading) the story of Christ's birth. It is all our family traditions, those things that remind us of what love is, that help me realize what a wonderful gift God gave to us.

I hope each of you has a wonderful month, and that in all the business we will not loose sight of what Christmas is all about. It is about how a little baby was born in a stable and laid in a manger, it is about Christ coming down to earth as a little baby so that we might be saved and so that a bridge would be built so that we could reach the Father.

Have a Merry Christmas,

Lime Jello Salad (Green Stuff)

Lime Jello Salad (Green Stuff)

1 pt. cottage cheese

1 pt. cool-whip

3 oz. lime Jello (dry)

1 lg. can crushed pineapple (drained)

This is the way my mom does it. She puts the drained pineapple in a bowl and then mixes in the Jello powder and makes the pineapple all nice and green. The she adds the cottage cheese and cool-whip and mixes it up really well. Then it is ready to serve.

It is our family's all-time favorite. It just isn't Christmas without "green stuff." One tip though, make sure the pineapple is drained really well. If there is too much pineapple juice the "green stuff" is runny and doesn't look good at all. Enjoy! Um, I can hardly wait. :)