Tag Archives: Christmas

Illuminating The Dark

28 Dec

The sanctuary filled with people of all socio-economic backgrounds, color, and gender. So different, yet so alike. All 102_3478of us there on this holy night, to worship The KING. Voices melted together, into one sound of praise, to the One who is worthy. Candle light flickered, illuminating an otherwise darkened room. Light that pierced the darkness, symbolic of that night so many years ago, when the Light of the world was born.

I read the back of the church bulletin, a poem entitled Mary’s Song, by Lucy Shaw. The words made me stop. Think. Take it all in. Ponder.

“…Quiet he lies whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps whose eyelids have not closed before. His breath (so slight it seems no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps to sprout a world…….”

He could have come with an army of angels. Instead God came to earth as a baby. He could have stopped time with the mere sound of His voice. Instead He came to change all time. He could have said, “no”, and just left us. Instead He came…..for us.

 

Jesus Messiah

22 Dec

 

From one of my blog archives……

Jesus Messiah

The choir members voices rose, filling the sanctuary. I listened to the music, as it surrounded me with the reality of the words. They were singing one of my favorite songs. Every time I hear that song, I don’t know whether to jump out of my seat and raise my hands towards heaven, or fall to my knees in thankfulness.

The song is by Chris Tomlin, and is entitled, Jesus Messiah.

English: Chris Tomlin performing a concert in ...

 

The chorus goes like this:

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names

Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

I am reminded that Jesus came to this earth as a baby. The Son of God humbled Himself to be Emmanuel, meaning “God with us“. He gave up his place in Heaven for the brokenness of humanity. For you and for me. I love this song because it reminds me that Jesus did not stay a baby. He grew up. He made a way for all of mankind. He is the bridge between God and us…and for that I am so very thankful.

Celebrating The Birth Of The King

20 Dec

I’m sitting at the kitchen table right now. All is quiet in the house, it is just me and the dog. Even he has fallen back asleep on his pillow. I have turned on the Christmas tree lights. Their white sparkle illuminates an otherwise dark living room. I’m quietly listening to Christmas music on the local radio station. I love the early morning, the feeling  of being the only one awake and moving.

For me, the hours and days that lead up to Christmas are the most exciting. The anticipation of it all,  makes me happy. Gifts wrapped and under the tree, Christmas movies on, lots of treats to eat, and the knowledge that over 2000 years ago, a baby entered the world. God in the flesh. The prophesied One. The Messiah in newborn wrinkled skin. Celebrating the birth of the King.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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I’ve Got Your Back

19 Dec

Today I am participating in the FAITH JAM.102_4787

The questions to ponder are….

Which character in the Christmas Story speaks most deeply with you?

How is God guiding you to take next steps on your journey to give birth to a dream?

I thought this post I wrote a couple of years ago, or was it just last year, answers today’s first question. I relate to Mary. A simple woman, a mother who loved her son. Who prayed that she was doing the right things. She who spent time pondering all these things. Who tried to understand. One who knew great joy and promise and still felt the pain of deep grief and sorrow.

As I continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord…as my grip on my own life loosens…my dreams have changed. I’m not sure what God has ahead for me. Maybe the path to my dream will be smooth and straight, but more likely it will be twisted and steep, rocky and scary at times. Even though I’m in my mid 40′s, I still have moments where I wonder what my dream is? What is it that would change me? Change my community? Change my world? With God no dream is too big, or too small.

The other day I was working in the kitchen when the words came to me, “I’ve got your back”. Just like that. Those words. Just as plain as if they had been whispered in my ear. Then this verse immediately came to my mind:

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:8 ESV

Now, I don’t know about you….but, that gave me the chills. Seriously. Goosebumps.

God has my back, and He has yours too.

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I think I mentioned that I am playing Mary (mother of Jesus)tomorrow at church. I’ve been thinking of Mary a lot lately because of this part that I have in the Advent monologues. Having to memorize “Mary’s lines” helps me to remember what is truly important. Allow me to practice my lines with you…..

”How can I even begin to tell you what I saw inJesus? Even before he was born my life was filled with wonder and amazement…..I was visited by an angel. Such power and authority! And yet there was such gentleness as he shared with me the expression of God’s love.

And then there was Joseph. He was incredible throughout all these events. Of course, he had questions and concerns but, he always responded to me with such love. I know that his own visit from an angel had a lot to do with that.

There are so many things that I remember…and I hold those  moments close to my heart. Because to be honest with you, most of Jesus’ life didn’t make sense to me…..until it was finished.

Jesus, he always thought of others before himself….I remember when we went to a wedding feast. Jesus changed the water into wine because he didn’t want the wedding host to be humiliated. Then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. He reached out to her with such love, I can’t even describe it! He even lovedPeter, a man who had denied knowing him, multiple times! And yet, love and forgiveness were his.

Then there was the cross…..the cross. Even on the cross Jesus was so full of love, and thinking of others. He didn’t want me to worry about how I’d be taken care of, so he said, ‘ John, take care of my mother.’ And to me he said, ‘ Mother, treat John as if he is your son.’

As he hung on the cross, with his life slipping away, he still had such love— and was putting others before himself. I heard him say, ‘ Father, forgive them!’……………….. and to the thief on the cross next to him he said, ‘ Today I will see you in paradise.’

And then it made sense. I understood. Love. God’s love. Jesus was a demonstration of God‘s love to this world. He was born, and he lived, and he died, and he rose again as an expression of God’s love to me! And as an expression of God’s love to each of you! God’s love…..that is what Jesus is all about. “

This certainly puts Christmas in perspective. Doesn’t it?

“You’ve Kissed The Face Of God”

18 Dec

I love the song, Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry. 102_3847

I’m always left with a sense of awe after the words……

And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God.

Being a mother of a son, I often ponder those particular words.

I remember after having my son, how mesmerized I was by his sweet little face. I stared at him for hours, amazed at the gift I had been blessed with. As mothers (and fathers) don’t we all feel that way?

How must Mary have felt?

I’m sure she was amazed at the birth of her child and stared at His sweet face for hours. When her lips lightly brushed His forehead,  or the tip of His little baby nose, she could not have possibly fully understood the implications of this birth, this life….she knew, but not really….it would have been too overwhelming for the heart of a young girl.

God came that night. He came for a world that was in desperate need of Him.

Pure. Innocent. Sinless and Perfect. A Holy Gift, straight from Heaven.

The One that would save us all.

This same world that Christ came to save,  attempts to remove Him from Christmas. Yet, it is impossible, because without Christ there is no Christmas.

The great Emmanuel, God with us.

 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV

The Gift

17 Dec

This morning, quiet and gray, with snow crunching under my feet…Ohio winter is already here. On the way to the barn I was mulling over my past and thinking about my future. When I’m outside doing chores, I always have time to think.  So much has changed, but the most important things have stayed the same. This time of year I am reminded. Reminded of difficult times, true friends, and the One who loves me.

I would like to share some of my past with you, as well as my future. This blog post is one I wrote three years ago around this time. I have it at the top of my blog page, but I wanted to share it here, today. I don’t want it to be overlooked. This passage speaks to who I am as a person, and how my life and memories are etched with the greatest gift of all.

The Greatest Gift Of Allphoto(2)

Even though I love Christmas….I am aware it is a difficult time of the year for many. So many who have suffered a loss, struggle through Christmas. Trying to smile. Wanting to celebrate, but are in too much pain to enjoy it. I want to help them….just like I was helped so many years ago.

FLASHBACK to Christmas 2000….my husband had died the month before. My 5 year old son and I would be spending Christmas in a different way that year. I tried to keep things as normal as possible. Unknown to me at the time, when I got up on that  Christmas morning, I would have a surprise.

A mysterious phone call. Caller unknown was on my phone’s ID. “Check your front porch”, the voice said.  I peered out my front door at 7 am in the morning. My front porch was filled with presents addressed to my son and me. He and I had so much fun opening the gifts that were so lovingly left on our front porch, early that Christmas morning. I later found out that my church’s Sunday Schoolclass had collected gifts and wrapped all of them…just for us. Then one of my dear friends and her husband secretly, and quietly delivered the gifts to my house at daybreak. I should have known. These were the same people that prayed for my husband throughout his illness. Held my hand at the hospital. Girlfriends that slept on the couch at my house, my first night alone…they stayed so I wouldn’t wake up to an empty house. Brought me meals. Bought me a dress for the funeral. Stood by me at the services.  Men that changed the oil in my vehicle. Ordered pizza to my house and visited with me while we all ate. I had people willing to babysit if I needed it, and fix food when I didn’t feel like it. I had a dear friend mow my yard during my husband’s illness and afterward. They showed HIS love through their numerous actions.They were real. Their love was practical. They were Jesus hands and feet to me.

What might have been one of the worst days for me, turned out to be a wonderful memory. A memory that still warms me all these years later. That special Christmas morning was a gift to me. I loved all the thoughtful presents, but even more was my love for my friends who had not forgotten me as they all celebrated on that Christmas morning. That is what warms my heart, even  more than a decade later.

Flashback over 2000 years ago… A dark night. A man and a woman who needed a place to stay. No one could help them out. The city was busy and there was not one room available. They were bone tired. The young woman was not feeling so well, she knew that this child that she had been carrying for the past 9 months, was ready to be born. But where?  The man managed to talk an inn keeper into allowing them to sleep in his stable, which was really not much more than a cave.  A literal hole in the wall.

In the stench of barnyard animals, the greatest gift to mankind was born that night. A night where people were running to and fro, busy with their lives. A night where no one was really paying much attention. A night not so unlike what we have now. God came into the world. Jesus left Heaven to come to this earth in human flesh. AND THE WORLD HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE. A divine gift. A gift of love to humankind. A light to the world. Light that split the enveloping darkness of that night, as well as all the days and nights to come.

For all those people that I mentioned earlier…those in pain, those that are hurting for whatever reason…my desire is that they would know the greatest gift of all. Because He lives you CAN face tomorrow. This life we all live, is never easy. Most days it is hard. Some days life downright hurts. This is nothing new. Knowing Jesus doesn’t mean that life will be perfect, or problem free. Anyone that says that is a liar. We live in a fallen world, and that alone brings sadness. But the good news is this:  Jesus didn’t stay a baby in manger. He grew up. He touched lives.

Lives were changed. He explained the scripture. He attended weddings, and family get togethers. He hung out with his friends…and he hung out with the outcasts of society. He gave sight to the blind both literally and figuratively. He was every bit human, as he was every bit God.  Decades after his humble birth in that cave, on a bed of straw He walked a road to the cross. Where His gift to you (YesYOU!) was given. Your name was on his mind. He knew that one day you would be born and live a life on this earth. He knew. He laid down his own life–in your place. He took the punishment for your sin (the bad things we all do). He did it because He loves you. Really loves you. And He knew that we weren’t capable of ever paying that price on our own. Impossible. The gap was too wide. We’d never make it. So, He did it for us. The gift of salvation just needs to be acknowledged and  accepted. (John 3:16)

 

I realize I have a lot of people that read my blog…people from all over the world, actually.  Some people  know me personally and some only know me through my words. I will be the first one to tell you that I am not perfect. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else. I tend towards selfishness. I like my own way. I’m too stubborn for my own good. Yep. That’s me. Sure, I like to think I have my good points too. But, some days are better than others. On a beautiful spring day in May of 1979 I accepted the gift. Life didn’t suddenly change for me. I didn’t start skipping through meadows of daisies with a perpetual smile on my face. Life can still be gritty at times. I’ve gone through great joys and intense tragedies. Even in the midst of all these things, Jesus has never left me. He promised me he’d never leave me, nor forsake me. Not ever. And He hasn’t. I want to share that gift with you. I want you to know, what I know.

I want you to have the Greatest Gift of all.

He Came For Us

16 Dec

The wooden figures stand tall, perched on the ledge above the kitchen counter. photo

Joseph and Mary looking with a mixture of love and awe at their newborn laying in a bed of hay.

The kitchen is a busy thoroughfare in my house, and I knew it would be seen there.

A reminder of His love.

Washing my hands after getting back in from feeding the animals. Cleaning the dirt and grime, seeing it go down the drain….while  gazing at the Jesus baby, birthed among those same kind of animals, in a dirty, smelly place.

Born into a world coated in sin.

He came.

He came to us, and for us… the ones who desperately need washed.

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV

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Today I am thankful for: 

*lightly falling snow

*the crisp morning air

*morning quiet time

*melting snow flakes on the dog’s fur

*safety for my children

*a husband who I laugh with and love

*family far and near

*the last day of my grad class…Yea!!!

*lit Christmas trees

*hot mocha swirl coffee

*wrapping gifts while watching It’s A Wonderful Life

*chocolate caramel “turtles” to munch on

*friendship

*Jesus, who left heaven, to enter the world as a baby

*He who laid down His life for me.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

14 Dec

Early morning, cold gray sky.

No breathtaking  sunrise on this cold and snowy day. IMG_0218

It is difficult to distinguish the ground from the sky. Is it gray and white? Or white and gray?

 

I am walking in a snow globe.

Snow coming down, covering the ground in a thick blanket of flakes.

The world is muffled under the wet white.

Counting down to Christmas.

Shopping and wrapping.

Singing and laughing.

The snow…

just makes it seem more so.

The most wonderful time of the year.

 

 

The Christmas Story

11 Dec

“That’s What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown”

 

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I was born in 1968.

Of course, I don’t really have any recollection of that decade. My memories come alive for me in the 70′s.

My childhood.

Last night I watched, A Charlie Brown Christmas, with my husband and kids. The cartoon first aired in 1965 on CBS. It has been watched during theChristmas season every year since that time. I remember watching it as a child, back before cable TV, back when one had to check out the TV guide to make sure no shows were missed. The Christmas shows were special back then…before VCR‘s and DVD players. Tivo wasn’t around yet, and most people only received the three main channels on their sets.

I’ll admit that I bought all the Peanuts cartoons on DVD….because I wanted them….for nostalgia’s sake.

As I watched the cartoon last night I was once again struck by the fact that Linus quotes the Christmas story from the book of Luke. I dare say that any modern day Christmas shows/movies would face litigation if they quoted the Biblical story of Christmas.  Don’t you find it interesting though, that this particular cartoon has been around for 46 years and is still very much loved?

Sigh.

I sat on the couch, at 43 years old, and watched a beloved show that took me straight back to 1975. I was seven years old all over again. As I munched on some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, I listened as Linus set his friends straight on what Christmas really means…and it made me happy all over again.

“‘8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’”  (Luke, chapter 2)

“…And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” —Linus

Thank you, Linus. The words you quoted

 never grow old…even if you have been around since 1965.

The Days Leading Up To Christmas

10 Dec

The day is wrapped in early morning quiet.cropped-img_01701.jpg

The blanket of snow muffles all sound.

It is barely light, and the icy blue sky has the barest tinge of pink.

A cold winter blush.

Layers of clothes and the warm snuggle of sweaters and soft fluffy socks.

The soft twinkle of tree lights and the faint scent of pine and cinnamon.

Bing is singing traditional favorites, and I sing along.

Warm cookies, straight out of the oven. Melted chocolate sweet on the tongue.

My senses are overwhelmed in the days leading up to Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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