Tag Archives: Because of Bethlehem

ADVENT LOVE #5: Blessed Memories

“Its here, in the season of lights,…I want our kids to be able to stand on the front walk with us in the days leading up to Christmas…to drink in the long, crisp winter dusk. I want them to see their tree, in their house shining through their windows. I want them to know the kind of warmth I remember coming home to as a child, the thought of Christmas, with all those lights strung around windows and doors, we might be safe in a greater sort of way. Hopeful, even….”~Drew Perry “Home for the Holidays” p28 Our State Magazine

Step by step – each day – we build a bank of memories. Some are immediately discarded into the back files of non-importance. Others stored in closer files for handy reference. And some – marked with a heart or a star or with a golden highlighter so that it can be pulled up at anytime – in any place – to be reviewed and treasured all over again.

Tonight as I tucked the Grands into sleep, I decided this was one of those memories that would be highlighted with that golden highlighter. After watching Miracle on 34th Street (original) and 2 large bowls of popcorn, we talked about the Christmas Count-down Bell that my daughter decided to continue with her children.

“Each night before Christmas,
After prayers have been said,
Take off a loop and hop into bed.
When Christmas will come,
It’s easy to tell,
For that is the night,
You come to the bell.”

We would write the poem in the bell and decorate it – sometimes wildly. Then a colorful construction paper chain finished the bell and allowed us to remember how many days we had to wait for Christmas. And somehow – the poem became ingrained in my important memory files forever.

Tonight the conversation took on a life of its own. Oldest Grand said, “I sing my prayers to God in my sleep.” Younger Grand said, “Yeah, at night, God and I talk a lot.” I said – “I don’t know if I sing, but I talk to God a lot as well. He doesn’t care when you talk to Him; He just wants to hear your voice because He LOVES you. Sometimes, I yak at Him in my dreams, but more often, I just talk to Him in the morning and at night and when some crazy person pulls in front of me because they wanted the parking space that I was getting ready to use.” The Grands laughed…I did too, but not so much when the crazy person cut me off.

“And let us pay attention to one another in the encouragement of LOVE and of good works.”~Heb 10:24

I alternately prayed for that crazy person and stomped my feet all the way into the grocery store . Then I saw one of the cashiers that I always look for when I get in line. She is bent over in so many ways that it hurts to watch. Yet, probably because we are close to being the same age and I understand pain in the joints, we always talk as she checks me out. She leans heavily on the counter as she picks things up from the cart and over the scanner. When she moves, she uses a cart just to move from the cash register to the office. Somehow, her work ethic drove that crazy person and all the other stupidness of this world completely into the discard memory pile. I pray for her tonight just as I pray from the Grands, my family – here or far away – and all the names on my war room wall – which seems to be growing at warp speed.

“You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.”~Is 26:3-4

Christmas memories can be warm and fuzzy – my first bike – my first Barbie – – – they can be scary and sad – a father having a 2nd heart attack on Christmas – a Christmas break 4 years later when I kissed him goodbye for the last time – – – holy and sacred – communion in a small upper room on Christmas Eve – learning to sing the mother’s role in Amahl and the Night Visitors just in case I was needed – Candle light service in my childhood church with my mother on one side and my children and Hubby on the other…

Blessed with peace-filled LOVE. Blessed with memories. [google image]

Advertisements

Advent Love #1: The Journey

“God always takes the initiative- – -He blessed first, served first, comforted first, and most of all, LOVED first. An then it’s up to us.”~Max Lucado, p175, Because of Bethlehem
 
This is the week, I really tend to start centering in on the humanity of the Holy family and the journey they actually took I mean – really? Walking and/or riding a donkey for 60 – 100 miles (depending on the probable routes of the times) in the last week of pregnancy has to be the ultimate ‘I-don’t-wanna-do-this-ever’ for new parents. And yet – somewhere deep within me – I know they didn’t even question it.
 
You have to figure that Mary and Joseph came from families that were immersed in scripture study. Visited by an angel – covered by the Holy Spirit – visited by another angel – Mary and Joseph knew scripture. They knew the prophecies – they knew that their son, Yeshua, would be born in Bethlehem – even before a Roman emperor told them that they would have to journey there to be counted.
 
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”~Micah 5:2
 
They may not have liked it, but they knew Abba was faithful in His promises. They knew they were on a journey like no other, and they walked that long distance in faith. Just as they had traveled the last 9 months – of fear – of derision – of lectures – of shunning…. The long distance into the wilderness – the heat of day and the cold of night – the Braxton-Hicks Contractions…the pain…discomfort – snakes and robbers perhaps hidden ahead – or – on good days – staying with relatives, friends or even – perhaps – an inn – resting on the Sabbath – money to travel – maybe? – but – in reality? – no place to call their own…no place to lay their heads… no place to lay their child…the Messiah…
 
Sometimes over the years, I’ve wondered if they thought that God would open a miraculous door, and they would find a place “fit for a king” waiting for them when they got to Bethlehem. I’m pretty sure that Abba didn’t fill in a lot of details for them any more than He does us when He pushes us out the door on our own journeys. As I study the scriptures, El is great at pointing the way, but expects us to travel on faith most of the time. I guess you can tell, that is not always my favorite way of embarking on a journey. I’m still working on that particular aspect of my character.
 
However, as I read over the last couple of paragraphs again, the proverbial light bulb went on in my sometimes functioning mind. Bam!! It made sense. His parents had to travel their own mirror journey of what Christ’s path would reflect. How could they “train up a child the way he should go…” if they didn’t understand what hardships might lie ahead in His earthly, humanoid journey.
 
“Therefore we shall love God because he first LOVED us.”~1 John 4:19
 
Today, hubby put on his shorts and took his own journeys. He ran the four-wheeler, the scooter, the motorcycle and walked the dogs. I worked on Christmas stocking #3, cleaned the garage, delivered a pine decoration to a neighbor and lit the final Advent candle.
 
We are blessed. Prayers circle. LOVE arrives as a baby. Merry Christ-mass. Seek the infant.
[google images]

Advent JOY #7: Seed

The joy of having an old “new” house is that there are always things that need a little tweaking. The floor in my office/writing/music/memory room is due for a tweak. This wouldn’t be a bad thing except it is crowded with “stuff” that probably only has meaning to me, and half of that “stuff” needed to be moved.

Errrrr….

Not exactly what I wanted to do on the morning of finishing a Christmas stocking, preparing food and pine centerpiece for daughter’s Christmas party, painting a few more ornaments as gifts, and wrapping a few presents. BUT – there I was – moving things from one room to another and biting my nails in between – literally. Tweaks are like that. When they squeak, we must tweak……and that is when the seeds fell on the floor.

“All suffering, all pain, all emptiness, all disappointment is seed; sow it in God and he will, finally, bring a crop of JOY from it.”~Eugene Peterson

A couple summers back, I read an easy way to save seeds for an efficient, easier planting in the next spring. So – I followed the instructions and when they were dried and ready – put them away for the spring. The problem was – I lost track of them. Two years later, the squeak of the tweak brought forth an unexpected JOY.

“Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.”~Ps 126:5-6

Obviously, I can’t run out and plant seed today – even in NC, it is not that warm. So I picked them up and put them on the bed in the extra bedroom until the squeak of the tweak is fixed….hmmmm….maybe I better move them, so I remember where they are this time….

Tonight, as I watched the Grands run from one floor to another – their Christmas JOY rattling the windows – while the camaraderie of the parents who were gathered around mounds of finger food permeated the downstairs with even more Christmas JOY – I had to smile. Seeds planted long ago are dropping fruit for a seed plantings of their own. We left before the Christmas play, the caroling, Santa’s visit, a Polar Express-marathon-sleepover – a communion service of it’s own in the making…

The JOY of the LORD is your strength.”~Neh 8:10

So – a day that started out in frustrating busy work that I didn’t want to do became a day that burst forth into an unexpected, beautiful rare bloom of brilliant colors. Colors that I keep revisiting in the quiet of our “new” old home where the squeak of the tweak is still clamoring for attention. Maybe tomorrow, I will move some more stuff so that the fixer-upper person will be able to complete their task without breaking anything. The seeds – not safe in the extra bedroom to my way of thinking – are now tucked securely into a book shelf nook, so I can find them easily two months hence.

Who knows what seeds Abba plans to plant in the next week of Advent? He planted a seed of LIGHT just for us in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago. I just hope that I continue to notice those seeds He plants close to me and am wise enough to nurture them in prayer, tending the garden well so that He may harvest the crop with His blessings in His perfect timing. After all – Christ is coming again soon, and I can hardly sit still.  My JOY is bubbling to the surface.

Now to the LORD sing praises
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and JOY, comfort and JOY;
O tidings of comfort and JOY.

[google images