Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to All Moms

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Luke 2:1-21

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Treasured Moments

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

In the hustle-bustle, always-something-to-do environment of being a mom there are scant moments to sit and treasure. I can barely imagine the wonder, excitement, and astonishment that Mary felt as she held the newborn Jesus. The child who had been conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit. The promised Savior.

Shephards came. Angels sang. Animals (most likely) brayed and whinnied close by.

Mary treasured and pondered.

It makes me ask the question of myself - how often do I treasure moments with my children? How often do I ponder them and lock them away in my heart?

Not as often as I'd like, but more than none. Just the other day I played, kissed, and tickled my 1-year-old as we walked downstairs for a snack. I laid down and read next to my 7-year-old reading also. I stole sugars from my 3-year-old and I held my 5-year-old for an extra long hug. These are the moments I treasure.

Even though I've been steeped in diapers and runny noses for almost 8 years, I know this time will slip away in the blink of an eye. Especially if I allow myself to be too distracted by other things. I'm grateful, most gratefully during the holiday season, to be reminded to stop, treasure, and ponder.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More on the Wise Men

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:12

Does God every change your planned course? He's done it to me more times than I can count. When I was nineteen, He pulled the rug out from under my plans on who I intended to marry and the college I planned to go to attend until graduation. He moved me across the country, within a year also changed what degree I aimed for, and introduced me to a wonderful man about a week after I swore off dating(who, by the way, is now my husband of almost 9 years.)

He had me wait way longer to get married than I desired, called me to stay at home full time after having my second child (after having earned a Master's Degree and starting my career, which I never planned to leave,) and gave me a whole new career path just before I turned thirty.

Those are only a sampling of the big things in which God's changed my planned course. There have been many small things along the way, also.

The wise men listened to God about changing their planned course. Having found and honored the Christ child, they packed up to head home. However, God had made it clear to them in a dream that Herod wasn't the trustworthy, honoring God type of guy and they needed to avoid him like the plague. It's like the wasp's nest that makes me go around the fort outside, instead of underneath it.

We don't know exactly how long the Wise Men's journey was, but most think it took them quite a while. Surely they had come the most direct route and, to avoid Herod, had to take a much longer route home. Sometimes, that's how God has me do things, too.

I'd much rather accomplish things the quick and easy way, but He knows me best and has greater rewards in store for me when I take His route. I learn more along the way. I appreciate the hard work and challenges that others face. And, I'm sure, a time or two, I've avoided a situation that could have been detrimental to me or someone else.

I don't always like to change course. I used to dig my heels in and resist change with all my might. God has taught me (you tell me whether I'm a fast or slow learner from the many examples above) that if I'm leaving Him in the driver's seat, the destination will be well worth the trip getting there. Now, I only get my feathers ruffled temporarily before moving on. I hope one day, I can fully submit, and be completely willing to travel whatever route God calls me to. Even if it's different than the one I had planned.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What the Wise Men can tell us

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from teh east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2

Do you ever think about the wise men (Magi) in the story of Jesus' birth? As adults we learn that, first, we don't know that there were three of them. All we know is that there was more than one and that however many of them there were, they brought three gifts. Then we learn that they did not come to Jesus in the manger, but he had most likely grown to a toddler before they arrived.

Given all the "ideas" about the Wise Men and what we actually know, what is important about their part of the story?

First, they recognized that he was born the King of the Jews. Second, they came to worship Him. These are two distinct actions. There are many people who recognize Jesus as God's Son, the King of the Jews, but they do not worship Him. The Wise Men came to bring Him gifts. To honor Him. These gifts are the basis for why we give gifts today for Christmas. But do we bring Him worship also?

I know I struggle to remember to set aside special time to worship Christ during the holidays. There are more family functions, cards to write, and presents to buy, wrap and make. It's business on top of every day Mommy business, and it's easy to get lost. But, if I'm still, I hear God calling me to bring the most important gifts to His Son. The gift of my love, obedience, and service. Even during this busy time.

Then, I will capture the true purpose of Christmas in a wise way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79

This is how Zechariah, John the Baptist's father, prepared for the birth of Jesus the Messiah. He, in his old age, and long convinced that he would die childless, celebrates the birth of his own son by looking towards the Christ child.

How am I preparing for Christmas? Am I preparing to celebrate the birth of the Christ child? I'm working diligently on Christmas cards, preparing for a family Christmas party, checking my list to make sure I haven't forgotten anyone, and have decorated. How much time am I focusing on the miracle God performed when He brought His eternal Son into this world through the humble birth of a baby? Not much.

But, thankfully, He gave me this reminder, along with many celebrations at church to remind me.

Jesus came because of God's tender mercy. That makes me want to lean back in His arms, look up lovingly and say, "thank You" over and over again. I am truly the worst of sinners and nowhere close to deserve His mercy, yet He gives it freely. When God said "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," He didn't mean He'd withhold it from those who deserved it. No. He meant He'd offer it to those who don't deserve it. He'd even offer it to those we don't think deserve it. His mercy truly is tender.

If I'm sitting in darkness and chaos, He tells me that He offers peace. That includes during the Christmas season, which is an even more difficult time for those who've recently lost loved ones, don't have a positive support network, or struggle with discouragement, depression, and distraction. The answer to all of these is to sit at the feet of Jesus, who's birth we are to remember and celebrate during this time, and allow Him to supply for all our needs. He knows our needs, and we simply have to let Him fulfill them. In the form of a baby - born humbly, completely man and completely God. And He will guide us to the path of peace.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creating a Worry-Free Home

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. Proverbs 31:11

Before you cringe at the fact that I've gone to the awe-inspiring Proverbs 31 woman, know that I have studied, struggled with, submitted to the meaning behind these verses. While this woman looks perfect, she is not. How do I know? Because she is human. I also know that this section of verses is not a snapshot glance at her life, it is a look into her overall life, evidenced by verse 28. Most likely, if her children arise and called her blessed, they are grown.

Okay, so now we can look at todays verse. This woman's husband has full confidence in her. Where do you suppose that confidence comes from? To me, it comes from his experience that she takes care of her duties and household with integrity. She does what she says she's going to do and backs her words up with actions. She looks after the household in such a way that her husband doesn't have to worry that things are falling apart while he's at home.

We, also have this opportunity today. Whether we work outside the home or only in it, we can manage our homes in a way that instills our husbands with confidence. This can be done by:

* greeting him with kind words and enthusiasm
* taking care of chores with a positive attitude
* doing something extra that he'll notice once in a while
* do what you say you'll do
* keep your focus on God and fulfilling the work He's called you to do.

In no way would I ever imply that the above is easy. It's something I work on daily. When I want to get lazy (not relax, relaxation and down time are important to maintain balance), I ask myself, am I living with integrity? Have I given God my best today? If not, I pray for His strength to help me persevere through one more task - and I sometimes remember to turn my praise music on while I'm doing so.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sing a New Song, Old Song, Any Song

Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Psalm 105:2a

I love praise music! It can turn my mood around and get me moving around the house like nothing else. Last year, after being resistant to move from my radio and CD player, I received and ipod for my birthday. I never could have imagined how much I would rely on it. But, I’ve put dozens of praise and worship songs on it, it has become a lifeline. Even washing dishes and dusting can become joyful activities when you’re praising the Lord.

As an added bonus to getting to praise God and shift my not-always-great attitude, my children are learning to praise God as a normal part of life.

The wealth of music available today to praise God is truly unlimited. And access is also. I can listen to Klove online, buy CD’s and download songs from the computer. As I go through my daily chores and do the same thing day after day, being able to connect to God through music helps me keep my focus on Him and remember that everything I do (including changing diapers, scrubbing toilets, and taking out the trash) are part of the job God’s called me to do. And since He’s called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker, I’m to do it as if I were doing it for Him, and not for anyone else.

So, regardless of what’s going on – what losses you face, what disappointments you’ve experienced, what discouragement you feel, what distractions life throws your way – make time to sing God’s praises and open yourself to what work He wants to do in you through it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Out of My Mouth

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Psalm 105:1

Do your children hear you talk about God? Is He such a part of your daily life that they hear you tell others the things He’s doing in your life? Do you direct them to turn to God with they challenges and praises?

This past month, I took the Thanksgiving Challenge on FaceBook and posted something I was thankful for each day. It was a wonderful exercise! I didn’t have a hard time coming up with things to be grateful for – not because I’m such a wonderful, thankful person, but because when we open ourselves up to recognizing God’s blessings, He shows us the bounty He has given us. And as I focused on His gifts, I was able to more clearly see other things He’s given me. The new social networks available only allowed me to proclaim His greatness to the whole world.

But I need to remember to do this every day, and not just online. But to my children and to those I come across in my circle. I don’t want to only quietly praise God and give Him thanks personally, I want to be the person who proclaims the Lord’s greatness.

As moms, we may not think we have many opportunities to let the whole world know what He’s done, but our children are the most important to tell. Then, we can guide them in seeking God and recognizing the work He does in their lives. Then they will learn the most important lesson of all – to love Him with all their minds, hearts, spirits and strength, because He is always there no matter what.