Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mary, Did you Know?

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Mary, did you know?" and this Christmas season, I find myself pondering Mary, mother of Jesus, even more. It's in the moments that I chase my toddler-baby around the house that I wonder, "Did Mary chase Jesus around the house to get his diaper changed? Did Jesus stumble and fall, ever bump his head, or whine when mother said 'No!'?" 

Did her birth story go the way she planned and hoped? I doubt she thought about giving birth in a manger or riding a donkey while 9 months pregnant. Surely, God protected her from any post delivery trauma. What about nursing? Did that go well? Did she feel comfortable asking Elizabeth or her mother for advice when it seemed difficult? Did Mary get to sleep through the night early on?

Did Mary ever think "I don't know what I'm doing!" like I do? Did Jesus ever throw food on the floor or refuse to eat everything she cooked that day? How many times did she have to remind herself that this little boy was actually God!?

How many times did she read the Scriptures to get a glimpse as to what was coming? Did she believe her son would be  "despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain" (Isaiah 53:3). Did she too, pray that this cup be removed from him?

I'd like to think that Mary had the most perfect little boy, he was after all sinless, and her life was without trouble or pain. But when I read the story of his birth, something tells me that Mary didn't get any sort of special treatment when it came to motherhood. Her life was not made easier by the birth of the Savior, in fact, it seems it got much harder:
  •   FiancĂ© wanted to divorce her once he heard of the pregnancy, thankfully an angel changed his mind
  •   Delivered baby in a manger
  •   Had to escape to Egypt to avoid Herod's plan to kill Jesus and then to Nazareth
  •   We know Jesus's brothers didn't think too highly of him for a while
  •   And last but not least, his death.
This tiny little baby was put in her care and she was charged with raising the Savior of the world! How did she do it!? How did she raise Jesus knowing that he was God-with-us; knowing his death was prophesied? Knowing that his death meant more than life?

Can you imagine the roller coaster of emotions? Was Mary a worst-case-scenario thinker like me? I sure hope God gave her His peace that transcends all understanding! But what about the moments of joy that filled this mother's heart? When did she first get a glimpse of his Holiness? Did he perform miracles just for her?

This week I came across two articles that really spoke to me about Mary. Both share themes about the swaddling of Baby Jesus, lying in a manger and the character of Mary. Please take a moment to read them.


May your Christmas season be blessed as you ponder the Christ-child!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Friend from Oz

As you may remember, one of my very best friends from college now lives in Australia. We've been able to stay connected via Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp. Honestly, most of the time, she doesn't feel that far away. But last week, she was HERE!

She scheduled her flight back to the Midwest with a brief stay in San Francisco. I was so excited! Of course our "storm of the decade" would happen to arrive on the same day as her flight, so after some delays and prayers, she finally arrived. Thankfully the real storm didn't hit until later that night . . . which would keep us indoors for the majority of her visit.

But you know, if you are going to be stuck inside with anyone, who better than your best friend you haven't seen in 17 months! We did venture out a few times to get dinner and our nails done and a quick trip to the grocery store and post office. And one brief stop at the Painted Ladies so she could say she saw something in the city!

The rest of the time she helped keep William occupied indoors and even put dinner together for me while I finished up work. She helped me bake eight dozen cookies for a party I was going to that weekend. (btw, baking is so much better with a friend!) We talked and played a game. We were just together. It was wonderful. It didn't matter that we didn't get to go hiking or to the zoo or anything adventurous. We just needed to have time together and that is exactly what we had. Two and a half days of togetherness.

While she was here, I couldn't help think back to our college days. Both gaining strength in our faith in Jesus Christ and seeking accountability. We used to get up early and meet in the Union to do our quiet times together. We didn't even talk to each other, we just had to be with each other. And then after that semester we both left to go overseas; she to Australia to student teach and me to Gambia to experience the mission field. We never lived in the same town again.

Friendships are so special. So important. They do take effort and need special care, but it's worth it all. The internet makes a lot of things possible but nothing can replace quality face-to-face time with a friend. It is nourishment for the soul.

Who do you need to reconnect with or make an effort to see face-to-face this season?