The Stillness of Christmas

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This Christmas has been quiet, and thoughtful.  Our Christmas Tree was our Jesse Tree this year and we read The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp for advent each evening.

We did our shopping online, and we picked up gift cards at the kiosk at the grocery store.  We celebrated with family the weekend prior to Christmas and on Christmas Eve we rushed to leave work so we could  get to the service at our church.  We were a few minutes late so we sat on the back row, and my four year old curled up in my lap and took the sweetest nap during that service.  I sat and held him as they sang carols and read scripture, and I just sat still capturing that moment, that love.

Be Still And Know…..

And in the quiet, O Holy Night….. I hear “til He appeared and the soul felt its worth, a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”   Christmas Carols softly speaking to me in deep places….in the quiet stillness.

Today we stayed in our “Christmas Jammies” all day.  We played with toys and stayed inside.  It was incredibly quiet and peaceful… like the Best Christmas Ever peaceful.   And tonight, we had dinner theatre and watched the Christmas Story while we ate our ham rolls.  We turned the lights out and ate in the dark with the laptop on the table and we watched.  Again, I was still.  Just taking it in.

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And in this animated story Elizabeth said to Mary, “you are blessed because you believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to you.”  I had to look it up to see if that was actual text or just part of the animation, and there it was:

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And then a few verses back, the angel appeared to Mary and told her all that would take place – the angel ends in verse 37 with “For no word from God will ever fail.”

The angel told Mary something that seemed impossible, something that seemed incredible, something that seemed so beyond her.   Yet, her response in verse 38 was this:  “I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled.”

When the angel left her, she went to visit Elizabeth.  Elizabeth said to her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-48)

Mary’s said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”

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As we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus tonight and blew out the candle, I thought of Mary and the lessons she taught me this Christmas:

  1. Be still and listen for God
  2. Don’t doubt, don’t worry, don’t be afraid
  3. I am not alone, as the Holy Spirit is my helper
  4. Let my first response be, “I am the Lord’s servant”
  5. Believe that the Lord will fulfill his promises to me
  6. Remember that no word from God will ever fail
  7. Reflect on My Song – and how I rejoice in His goodness!

What about you?  When you read this verse in Luke 1:45,

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

What comes to mind for you?  Has God spoken His promises to your heart?  How do you/did you overcome doubt, worry and fear?  Reflect on Your Song – what does it look like for you?

Merry Christmas to you and Happy Birthday Jesus!

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The Little Girl In Me…

Stands behind me holding both legs

occasionally peeking around to see

At times, she wants to go back

into the dark, sit in the corner

Knees pressed into her chin

hands covering ears tightly

eyes squeezed shut

gently rocking back and forth

mouth sealed

but,

the breeze on her cheek brings color to her face

causing her to gasp at the freshness

the colorful lights in the sky

strain her neck to see their canvas unveiled

To dance I feel the loud music

beating through her chest

I feel her.  I know she’s there

I sense her heels digging in, fists clenching

at danger, uncertainty and fear

Facing realities long feared in real time

eyes wide anticipating the axis of the earth

will soon spin off into orbit

peeking around seeing impossibilities

become possible

smelling flowers

picking up rocks

touching mortar along brick walls

not quite ready to stand beside me

and hold my hand

not quite ready to run ahead

hair blowing, arms in the air

looking back all smiles

believing all is right

with the world.

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Choose Love

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Sometimes, if we just keep it simple, we remember.  We repeat.  We sing it.  We pray it.  We think about it, and we let it roll around in our brains and on our tongues.  We are reminded and we are quick to remind others.

A few times recently, the kids were fighting constantly – and nothing seemed to work.  Separating them, sitting them down, sending them to their room – was all just a temporary solution to a louder BUT SHE!!  and WELL, HE!!! rebuttal.

One day I walked into the kitchen and I wrote two words on a sheet of paper and I put them on the refrigerator.  CHOOSE LOVE.  I sat them all down and I told them with urgency (because those two words are mostly for me too) that we must choose love.

Before any unkind word is spoken, Choose Love.

Before any harsh word is yelled, Choose Love.

Before any feelings are hurt, Choose Love.

Be intentional and be reminded in our words and actions to simply Choose Love.

It started out with reminders.  Now instead of them running to tell me that “someone” wasn’t sharing, they looked into the eyes of “someone” and said Choose Love.  When they did run to me with the latest complaint, or injury – I would hold my tongue thinking Choose Love, and cup their chin gently in my hand and say Choose Love.

It hasn’t been perfect but it has been perfectly better.  The best was when our four year old prayed at bedtime, “help us to choose love”.

Two simple words to ponder, and to remind us of what we are called to do:

John 13:34  A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 

Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in love.   Honor one another above yourselves.

Ephesians 4:2   Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  

Hebrews 10:24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  

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1 Corinthians 13:13  And now these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

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Three Words

Dear Lady in the grocery store parking lot,

I knew the minute you said these three words:  “I’m sorry, but….” I needed to brace myself.

I was just steps from my car when you approached me to say “I am sorry but it is freezing out here!” and then you looked at my youngest sitting in the cart and asked him, “Are you cold?” and  “where is your jacket?”  and then you looked down and noticed he didn’t have on shoes.  Or Socks.

I think at the time all I could muster was “It was that or no breakfast – we are out of milk.”

I held my head low as I returned the grocery cart and gathered my child in my arms and made a dash of shame to the car.   Three words came to mind.  “I’m that Mom!”

I sat thinking what does that mean as I waited in the drive-thru for our food.  My kids were asking who was that lady?  Why did she talk to us?  My brain was firing with thoughts as we pulled in the driveway and my daughter put her hand on mine and said, “Mom, what’s wrong?  Did that lady hurt your feelings?”  I said, yes – she made me feel like a bad mom.  My daughter said “No, you are not a bad mom!  You are the best mom ever – even when you get mad its only for a few minutes!”  With one eyebrow up I look back at the shoeless, sockless, coatless, grinning kid who started all this and he just smiled and said “Mom, you are the best cooker ever!”  just as I grabbed the bag from Taco Bell to carry inside.

Then as we sat down to eat our dinner I thought, I wish I could have said more to her.  I wish I had the words right there in the parking lot.  At the time, I really didn’t even have the thoughts.

I wanted to tell her….

I woke up this morning to teach Zumba.

Then my family met me to decorate my 4 year olds classroom with Christmas lights to help out his teacher.  This is how we ended up with two cars – (this is important!)

After decorating, we drove to the Rescue Mission to drop off canned food that the Zumba Ladies collected at our recent Turkey Burn after Thanksgiving.

Then, we left my car at the school and drove 1 hour each way to my Mom’s house because today is her birthday and the kids helped her decorate her tree.

Then, we went to visit my grandmother who just got out of the hospital.  We only stayed briefly but I knew she would want to see her great-grandchildren.

Finally we arrived back at my car and it was there that my two youngest children decided they wanted to ride with me.  It was there that my youngest boy jumped in my car without a coat, without socks, and without shoes.

It was behind that steering wheel that I realized my gas light has been on for a while now and I should stop and get gas.  It was while pumping gas that the lights to the grocery store reminded me that we were out of milk.  It was while running in to grab the milk that I saw the bell and thought we could make a quick run for the border and finally head home.

You see, the plan was to head straight home.  But, I didn’t.  Then I heard these three words

I’m sorry!, but…..

and ….    then I thought these three words.

I’m that Mom.

I don’t think you meant any harm, and I am not upset.  It just made me a little sad.

And then, I walked in and found a present on my front porch from a friend and my heart warmed.

Then we all enjoyed warm chocolate chip cookies

all of us together, warm – watching a movie…

and finally we celebrate day 7 of “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp and we reflect on how God provides.

Three Words…. God Always Sees.

This morning I retweeted Pastor Jim Cymbala, “Folks all around us are fighting battles no one knows about.  God’s looking for someone who is selfless enough to say, whom can I help today?”

You see, “I’m Sorry, BUT…. I’m THAT Mom….the one who is walking around fighting battles no one knows about….  and, maybe just, maybe …. you are too.  God Always Sees….. even when we miss it.

Psalm 33:13-15  (NIV) From Heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.