Monthly Archives: December 2011

Daddy’s Shoulders

“You saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”  Deuteronomy 1:31

This past year there were many hikes that promoted health, awe, and wonder.   Of these hikes two were dearest to my heart because they enriched my memory bank with images of my sons as fathers.   One gray, rainy day in May, I walked on the Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore behind my son and grandson.   When five-year-old Isaac became tired, Jim hoisted him up on his shoulders and carried him.   I snapped a picture in my mind and with my camera.    On a sunny, warm November day, I hiked in the Colorado mountains with my youngest son and granddaughter.   I was lagging behind when five-year-old Anjela became tired.   I watched as Joel lifted her up on his shoulders and carried her the rest of the way.   Again I took a picture to marvel over the strength of my grown son and the happiness of my granddaughter riding up high.

Heavenly Father, what a marvel your strength is.   What a joy it is to ride on your shoulders.   It makes me giggle with delight when I pause to remember that is where I am today.    There is no place I’d rather be and no better place to end a year and begin a new one. 

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Princess

During 2011 people from all around our globe watched with pleasure as Prince William made his bride Katherine, a princess. Old and young alike enjoyed the real life fairy tale being dramatized on the world’s stage.

My fourth grandchild, Alyse, was barely a week old when her mommy, Heather, started calling her “Princess.”   Heather spoke this endearment with tender affection and concern.   The name embodied all her feelings of pride and joy over the uniqueness and wonder of her first born child.  How many mothers have known that their offspring are not ordinary but something akin to royalty?   That communicated feeling, that understanding, became the basis of Alyse’s self esteem, as it has for children through all generations.

I was struck with the reality of Alyse’s nickname, “Princess.”   God gave us the power to become His children by receiving His Son. (John 1:12)    The Church is made up of the adopted children of the King of Kings.  Those children are truly princes and princesses.   Jesus has promised that someday these children of God will reign with Him on earth.

Help us, Father, to remember we are royalty and help us to behave like it,  fulfilling all our responsibilities in the servant attitude of our Lord Jesus and enjoying all our privileges with humble gratitude.  

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Fully Satisfied

“But as for me, my contentment is not in wealth but in seeing you and knowing all is well between us.   And when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face to face.”  Psalms 17:15  from The Living Bible Paraphrased

I babysat for my granddaughter, Alyse, one evening when she was several months old.   Her daddy, my son Jim, dropped her off and took his wife out on a date.   I enjoyed holding and rocking little Alyse.   After she fell asleep in my arms, I laid her gently down in the crib, covering her with a soft blanket.   When Jim returned,  he carefully picked her up and and held her next to his chest, trying not to disturb her sleep.   Nevertheless, Alyse did awaken, looking up into her daddy’s face.   Her gaze was one of recognition and contentment.  She smiled and snuggled against his chest, falling instantly back to sleep.

Lord, that is how death will be.  I will fall asleep here on earth and awaken in your arms, gazing into your face, fully satisfied, at peace and content. 

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Christmas Promises

Oh, the lovely memories of Christmas past.  On the first Sunday night of Advent, we discussed two prophecies about Jesus with our small sons by the soft, flickering light of the Promise Candle.   We reminded them that one promise had already been fulfilled.   It unfolded when the Messiah came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.   We reminded them that we were joyfully anticipating  the unfolding of the second promise when the Lamb returns to earth as the King of Kings, the mighty Lion of Judah, to take His children home.

Sent By The Father (words and music by Ray Boltz and Steve Millikan) is one of my favorite Christmas songs because it triumphantly addresses both of these promises.  Here is the chorus:

Sent by the Father

Jesus go and call my children

A trumpet sounds and the angels sing

Like never before

With shepherds and wise men

We humbly bow

And every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord

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Real Wealth

“I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to him.”  Ephesians 1:18 from The Living Bible Paraphrased

One by one each of our sons made us richer.   Jon presented us with his beautiful Bride, Sarah, one Saturday in November as the snow softly fell from the sky.   Jim presented his beautiful Bride, Heather, one sunny, summer day in August.  Joel presented his beautiful Bride, Adreza, on his birthday in December.   These Brides were valuable gifts to my husband and me.  They enriched our lives and our family.

Christmas is the story of the Creator who left His home in Heaven and journeyed to His creation, Earth, to seek His Bride.  He wooed her, purchased her with His life, and gave her as His gift to His Father in Heaven.  His Father rejoiced because this Beloved Bride made Him richer.  This all wise Father considered His relationships His wealth.

Father, remind me again and again that my real wealth is the people in my life, not my money or what I possess.  Thank you for the love of family and friends.  What a wonder it is to realize that each of your children, including me, is a gift to you.   I am grateful for the price Jesus paid to make me your daughter.   I feel valuable and precious, and I love You.

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My One and Only

It was only a few days before Christmas.   I was still waiting for Jesus to tell me what He wanted for His birthday.   I decided to meditate on John 1, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.   When I reached verse fourteen, it might as well have been highlighted in bright neon with lights flashing on and off.   “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  It was as if Jesus was standing next to me, pointing to that verse, just like my grandson, Isaac, had pointed to the toy he wanted in the toy catalog.  In my heart I heard Jesus say,  “That’s what I want, Mary.  I want to be your One and Only.”   Far too quickly, I glibly replied,  “Oh, Jesus, of course you can be my One and Only.  You are my One and Only.  Well, Lord, I gotta run.   You know how much I have to do today.”

It was still dark when I awoke early Christmas morning.   I walked to the living room, leaving the room dark, except for the Christmas tree lights.  I sat down to enjoy the soft beauty and the gentle quiet.  Then the Beloved spoke,  “I want to be your One and Only.”   I said, “I suppose that means you don’t think you are really my One and Only.”  I was answered with silence and no doubt raised eye brows.  I snapped back,  “Well, a long time ago you were my One and Only and look what it got me.”  Had I really just said that to my Lord?  It was a moment of truth.    “Are you still angry? He asked.    “No, Lord, I’m not angry anymore.”   “Are you still hurt?” He persisted.    “No, Lord, I don’t think that I am hurt anymore.”   I searched my heart and mind while He patiently waited.    “I’m araid,” I said, “I’m afraid that if I love you with the passion of my youth again it will mean more loss.”

As I pondered my fear of loss, Paul’s words came to mind: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippines 3; 7 &8)   In the stilness,  my Lord whispered in my heart,  “Aren’t I worth it, Mary?”   With tears running down my face,  I yielded my fear and myself,  “Yes, Lord you are worth it.  Please once again be my One and Only”

Lord, don’t let my fear of loss keep me from loving you passionately as my One and Only.  Overcome my fear and take your rightful place in my heart.  You are worth whatever I have to let go of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“What Would You Like for Your Birthday?”

When our sons were growing up, we practiced the tradition of lighting a candle on our advent wreath on each of the four Sundays before Christmas.  On the fourth Sunday we discussed the wise men and the gifts they brought to the Christ Child.  We asked our boys,  “What birthday gift are you bringing to Jesus this year?”   The boys grew into men.   Although the tradition had long been abandoned in our empty nest,  I continued the practice of giving my Savior a birthday gift every year.

The year our grandson, Isaac, was three and a half,  I was unable to choose a birthday present for Jesus.   Nothing seemed quite right or appropriate.  While visiting grandma and papa, Isaac discovered a toy catalog that had come in the mail for me.   He took the catalog and sat down on the living room floor, wistfully turning pages while I worked in the kitchen.  Suddenly he stood up and ran to me.  Pointing to a toy, he excitedly said,  “Look, Grandma.  This is what I want for Christmas.”   Sighing, not wanting to disappoint, I replied,  “Oh, Honey,  Papa and I already bought your Christmas present, but I will keep this in mind for next Christmas”  Satisfied with my answer,  he returned to the living room and to looking at more pictures on the pages.   Standing in the kitchen,   I had this thought:   Maybe I should just ask Jesus what He would like this Christmas.  Like Isaac, I can count on Him to be honest and authentic.  He will tell me.

“Lord Jesus, it is your birthday again.  What would you like me to give you this year?”

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Two Christmas Presents

I wasn’t pleased when I realized we were expecting our third child. I wanted a third child but not that year. From my vantage point the timing was a hardship. My husband was pastor of a small, rural church. I was not employed outside our home. We were poor. My conversations with God were dominated by my complaints, fears, worries, and generalized whining.

The Lord changed my attitude. At the time, I was reading in Isaiah. When I reached the fourteenth chapter, verse twenty-four, my Master brought my grumbling to a screeching halt. “Surely, as I have planned, so will it stand.”  I suddenly comprehended the lie that my pregnancy was an accident. Truth dawned.  The timing of the birth of our third child was God’s plan. I chose to believe God that day and to embrace my pregnancy. Several months later, Jesus thrilled me with words from Matthew 18:8. “Whoever welcomes a child like this in my name, welcomes me.” Our third son, Joel, was born on December twelfth. In a very special way, we welcomed Jesus into our home that Christmas, as we welcomed our new baby. There were two extraordinary presents, two baby boys. One was my Saviour and the other, my beloved son. How blessed I was.

Father, I praise You for being the Loving, Sovereign of my life and of the universe. That truth is my solid foundation. I am often surprised, but You never are. Thank you for surprises. May I always embrace and unwrap them with faith, knowing your purposes are always loving and meant for the good of your children. You are a God to be trusted.

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Making God Smile

My granddaughter, Ilsa, was three the Christmas her cousin, Alyse, was born on the twenty-fourth. Ilsa was interested in letters and spelling. She asked, “What is the baby’s name? What are the letters?” She was also learning about prayer and the true meaning of Christmas. Because she was shy and didn’t like being the center of attention, we were surprised when she assertively told her mother that she wanted to be the one to say grace before our Christmas dinner. She prayed with simple faith and sincere gratitude, thanking God for Jesus, for the food, and for each of us by name, including herself.

My husband’s brother, David, called that evening from another part of the world. On Christmas Eve in his country several Christian Churches had been bombed. Many believers were injured and killed. David was crying. God was crying.

Father, may all your children pray with child-like faith and sincere gratitude. Ilsa’s prayer must have given you such joy and made you smile. There are so many things, Lord, that break your heart. May my prayers give you joy and make you smile.

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Morning Quiet and Another Hug

By habit, I awaken early.  I brew a fresh pot of coffee, pour a cup, and pick up my Bible.  As the dawn of a new day breaks, I sit with Jesus, listening to Him and sharing my concerns and needs.  In the calm silence I feel and know His love and draw strength for the day.  I close the book and say “Amen”.  I stand to face the challenges that lie ahead.  Quickly the list of priorities, along with anxieties and doubts arise, and as C.S. Lewis once said, “Rush at me like wild animals”.

Lord, some days I have barely left your refuge when I want to run right back and say, “Will you hug and kiss me again?”.   I am thankful that You are always near me and in me.  I am thankful that your reassurance and help are only the breath of a prayer away.  Thank you for another hug. 

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