Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Season of Remembering

A Season of Remembering

The wonder of the birth of Christ that will save us from ourselves. What a mystery God created with the birth of Christ. How many people really knew that Mary was carrying the child of God? We always picture that of course everyone knew and accepted that she was. I am sure that Mary and Joseph were both overwhelmed with what God was doing. He told them first of course. When the Holy Spirit shadowed Mary and the Angel appeared to Joseph, to them there was no question it was God working in their lives.

 When God first speaks to you, isn’t it glorious! You stand in awe of the moment and you just “know” all this is from Him. I remember when we were trying to have a child, how discouraged I was at first because we just could not get pregnant and we had two miscarriages. How devastated I was. I will never forget the hour that God told me to trust Him. In that moment, I knew that God would bless us somehow with a child.

After the blush of the Holy Spirit and the Angel, appearing to Joseph, life settled into a routine. The glory of that moment seemed to fade as it became more apparent to everyone Mary was with child and yet not married. Can you imagine what they had to deal with? Can you imagine the jeering, the gossip, and the whispers as they both tried to walk through what God had called on them to do? The judgment from God’s own people that did not recognize the gift He was about to give to us. The gift that would cost Him so much. These two people were burdened and blessed.

Did Mary unburden her heart to anyone? Did she suffer quietly? She had answered the call of God on her life and yet, she was set aside. She was doing exactly what God asked of her but, the people of God could not see what God was about to do. She lived here on earth with people that were blind to the Spiritual things that God was trying to accomplish.

Does it sound familiar? Maybe God has put something on your heart, or called you to do something that in the earthly world does not measure up. Maybe it will cost you your reputation; your material things or maybe it will cost you your family because that can’t see the spiritual realm that God has shown you? Whatever it is, the cost is worth it. The cost of going deeper with God is more valuable than you know. Walking with Him not matter the cost took me through a life that would tear everything I knew apart. What God handed back to me, a life that I would not ever exchange. The journey hurt. The journey was painful. The reward was great! My relationship with God is so much stronger than even I knew I could have.

After my heart was truly broken, spilled out before Him I could see a new life that would call me to a much deeper spiritual calling than I had ever known before. A calling to a life that was not just a passive acknowledgement of God and His works, but participating in His work. A call to love God’s people the way He did, through His eyes. To see their hurts, burdens and pain as a place to help them grow, learn to love deeper and to walk on with a God that loves them so much because I had been there. I can feel that pain even when it is not spoken. Because I have experienced that pain. Because I have been there through tragedies and moments of crisis, I know God holds us all tightly in His hand.

We always see this time of year as Mary and Joseph head to Bethlehem  and the birth of Jesus as some tender, sweet journey through two Godly people. Which they were God’s chosen parents to take care of His son. What an awesome statement of their faith. However, the journey he sent them out on was not easy and would last for 33 years. I am sure they had years that were not as hard but Jesus was God’s son. Just like Jesus, they suffered from the judgment of their peers. Their calling was now participating in God’s work. His plan that was the ultimate gift of Jesus. However, most did not understand His plan. Nevertheless, they pressed on. As Jesus died and rose again, can you imagine how Mary must have felt. The testimony she would give of her son. Because, she was His mother. Her heartbeat was with His. She loved Him so very much. That was her calling and she walked through every heartache and every comment with pride knowing she was following God.

When God blesses He also provides. Before God ever blessed Mary with Jesus, He had already made a way for her to be able to withstand the judgment of this world. He knew the heart of His own people and what Mary would endure. He knew that not everyone would accept his plan for salvation and not all would understand who Jesus was going to be in their life. He knew that their eyes were blind to the gift that would enter this world.

God knew that Mary would need strength to endure it all. That she would need Joseph to stand behind her. She would need Joseph to be her strength when she could stand it no more. When God calls you, He also provides. Each step is already been walked before you by God. He goes before us and is our rear guard.

This Christmas I remember the birth of Christ but also remember the “call” on Mary’s life. The blessing she was to raise Jesus. To teach Him and help Him along the way as He grew into the man and son of God. The bible says she pondered those things in her heart. I am so sure she did.

As I remember the walk Mary took, I look at Olivia. No, not the same story, but a calling nonetheless. The calling to take the road less traveled. A road that we have walked so many years now and is painful. God entrusted us as parents to raise her to know Him and love Him through all her pain. He entrusted us to grow and know Him on a deeper level so that we might bring Honor to Him. The stories of faith, of lives changed, of miracles in our lives and others has truly been nothing short of miracles along the way. We have fallen short many times but every time we have gotten back up, scraped the dirt off and walked on because of greatness of who God is in our lives. This year as I remember the birth of Christ I realize the true gift of being able to walk “boldly into the throne of grace” and God listening. He listens as we pray. He loves us as we pray. He stands with us as we “ask and pray.” All because Jesus chose to be born into this world and was raised from the Dead. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Season of Wonder

Well, I have struggled all week about what to write. It just seems that this time of year is about the wonder of God and not a Bible Study. The season helps us remember what God has done for us and not what we have lost. So I made the decision to take the next few weeks and write about this season. This season seems to be a great time that we all reflect on what we have had, where we have been and where we are going. Some of us have great memories that have turned sad, some still have great memories and more to be made, and some have a mixed bag of blessings and heartache at this time of year.

This time of year brings all of those memories to me as well. I have a mixed bag of blessings and sadness. But through it all, above it all, I can see the blessings far outweigh the hurt, pain, struggles and strife. The joy and wonder of Christmas is the best blessing of all. Because the wonder of life, miracles, healing,  and love have been poured out to me by a God and Father that loves me more than I can ever understand or contain in just that one word,love. The wonder and honor of His love is greater than anything we can imagine. It seems that Christmas, like Easter, reflects and demonstrates His ultimate love for us.

When I hear the word wonder I always picture this little girl in her warm mittens, scarf, and hat bundled up and turning around and around as the snow is falling to the ground. I just see the twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face and the snow seems like love surrounding her. She has no idea where the snow really comes from and she doesn’t care. She doesn’t  care that it is cold because she is bundled and enjoying the moment. She is completely abandoned to her moment of wonder. I think it is the innocence and the pure joy of experiencing that wonder that shows me how God has provided for me.

My moment of wonder has been the start of the holiday season. My tree is up and decorated. The lights are going up in our yard and we are starting to continue some of our family traditions. I look around at all that is being accomplished and I am like that little girl with the twinkle in her eye, amazed at the “wonder” of the blessings of God. Hers was snow, but mine is the blessings and miracles God has provided in my life.

One blessing seems small but is huge for us. This year Olivia was able to help me decorate the Christmas tree. In the past few years her strength and endurance was just not enough to help. T his year we laughed as we spun the lights around the tree, we groaned as the ornaments would not go exactly where we wanted and we watched Christmas movies and giggled and talked through two evenings of decorating. I stopped myself several times to remind me to take a memory picture of this moment. This moment of pure joy and wonder of a Christmas, I was never even able to see coming.

We have a tradition of going to see different lights around our little city of Buford. We usually go out once an evening for about 30 minutes. These last few years Olivia has stayed home more than she could go to the point we stopped going. This year, we have been able to do it! We sing along to Christmas songs on the radio as we talk about each house that is decorated or not. We get ideas for our yard or for next year, we laugh and talk about the people that may live there. They must have kids; they are older and cannot do much etc. In fact, there are several places we go every year just to see what they have done this year. I always want to leave a card in their box to say how much we appreciate their effort, LOL. Not sure what they would make of that but hey, we do love it.

This may not seem like much to you but to me, it is a miracle and I am so thankful that God would allow me to have more time with my daughter. I am so thankful that God would allow me to marry a man that would endure so much heartache through this crisis (for eleven years and counting) and come out the other side a stronger, more caring, more loving man. That we would be able to withstand so much in our marriage and still be able to say “I love you” and not have walked away from something that became very precious. That the material things of this world have become so much less than the eternal things that matter. The wonder that God would know where we needed to walk each and every day to come to know Him on an even deeper and stronger level. The wonder of a God that knows each of us so personally and so honestly that we trust Him to know what is best for us can be so very hard and yet so very freeing. We have lost much and we have gained much.

As I have been thinking about this Advent season that is upon us, I remember. I remember many Christmas’s holding on to God’s hand, praying we would get through one more. I remember a God that would stand by me, call people to pray to hold my arms up one more time, and help us as we got through one more tough Christmas season.

I also remember that Jesus chose to be born here on earth so that He could save us from the death and destruction of this earth. Without His sacrifice I could not have walked into the throne room of God and lay on altar and ask Him to protect, love and care for my daughter, my marriage, my family as we all suffered. The ones I have lost along the way, I know they are in a far better place and have the love of an incredible Heavenly Father. Though I miss them terribly, I know their days are filled with joy. The wonder of heaven.

This Christmas for me is about the wonder of miracles. The miracle of healing that Olivia is experiencing right now. The many, many miracles that God has allowed us to see along the way. We would have never made it this far without God going before us and coming behind us. We would not have made it this far without the friends, prayer warriors, and family that have held us up and found a way when it seemed there was no way.

So this Christmas there are many wonders…many miracles…many blessings. One of the biggest blessings is you. That is the incredible “wonder” of God that knits hearts and lives together to help hold each other up as they struggle through their crisis so that they can experience the incredible love of God.

Blessings on this Advent Season. I will be remembering you in my prayers!

In His Grip