Emmanuel – God With Us

Emmanuel - God With Us

The sweet scent of cinnamon and sugar mixed with Christmas music filled the kitchen. I was joyfully singing along to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by the window. Just as I was cracking the egg, my voice cracked, and my heart broke as tears spilled into sink.  
 
I stood there peeling egg after egg. Breaking them and pulling back the hard shell.
Remembering.  
 
Sometimes in the midst of such joy and happiness, pain can rush in like a hard punch. 
 
Especially during the holidays, grief and joy mingle and intertwine like the red and white of a candy cane.  
 
A song, a smell, decorations, or a show can send unexpected waves of emotion.
 
Tears spill with questions, old and new. 
 
Why? 
 
What if? 
 
Breathe.  
 
Look around. Smell the candle. See the twinkling lights. Hear the laughter and the music. Move.  
 
In the grounding, the wound that bubbled up and festered out of nowhere simmers down a bit.  
 
The light shines through the tears and brings the moment into focus.  
 
Not alone.  
 
The little girl of inside of me is here amid the festivities. She’s safe. She’s not always festive and bubbly but she’s present. Out in the open. In the light. In the truth.  
 
She enters the fullness of the celebration mended… and broken.
 
And here… 
 
She’s welcome. She doesn’t have to hide anymore. She’s no longer numb. No longer frozen. No more fake smiles and empty eyes. 
 
She’s standing holding broken eggs, teary eyed and gazing beyond the kitchen window.  
 
And she’s going to be okay.  She’s breathing in new seasons with fresh eyes. Making new memories and even remembering the good. 
She is loved. 
Emmanuel - God With Us
She’s with me.  
He’s with me. 
Emmanuel – God with us.  

 I will escort the blind down roads they do not know,
        guide them down paths they’ve never seen.
    I will smooth their passage and light their way.
        I will indeed do it—they are abandoned no more.

Treasure and Ponder

Luke 2:19

It’s been a messy wet Christmas Eve, and the tree lights twinkle much like the hope stirring in my heart.  I read the Christmas Story in Luke and this verse stood out to me:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

The angel Gabriel had told her that she would be the mother of Jesus and the final sentence of his message was:  For nothing will be impossible with God. 

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  Luke 1:38

She believed what seemed impossible.  She didn’t know all of the specifics or how it would all come to pass but she trusted God.

And then the night came when the star was shining bright in the dark sky and she gave birth to baby Jesus.  When the shepherds arrived to see the baby in the manger they could not help but share their news, and everyone who heard it was amazed.

BUT Mary.  She treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

She had witnessed God work mightily in her life.  She heard His promise.  Carrying the baby inside her for nine months stretched her body and her faith.

She knew God was faithful.  She knew without a doubt that He could be trusted.  He had given her Joseph, who loved her and stood by her. Her time with Elizabeth encouraged her and they rejoiced together!

And now.  She held close to her heart the Savior of the world.  She nursed the baby who would provide the very bread of life.  She held the hope in her arms.  Her long-awaited hope had arrived.

In the stench of the messy stable, she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

We can hold that same hope in this smelly, sometimes chaotic life.

God is faithful.

He can be trusted.

We may not know how it’s going to happen, and quite frankly we may even at times think it is simply impossible.  In those moments may we remember that nothing is impossible with God, and no word from God will ever fail (Luke 1:37).

So tonight as the lights twinkle, may our hope shine bright.  May we reflect on His goodness, and all of His faithfulness.  Let’s praise Him for those who have stood by us and encouraged us.  May we take the time to rejoice with others who need our encouragement.

Remember, treasure, and ponder.

As we hold tightly to our own hope tonight, let’s treasure up all of these things and ponder them deep inside of our heart.

God loves us and we are blessed to believe that the Lord would fulfill his promises to us!

Merry Christmas!

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Meredith Bernard

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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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.