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Expectant Like Mary

Expectant Like Mary

This year, I made myself a promise that I would buy 95 percent of Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. I’ve even managed to ship a few care packages and boxes of presents already. I think I learned from previous years that if I want a peaceful, Christ-focused Advent season, I have to be organized, planned, and efficient.

Two years ago, my father passed away on December 2. Advent was a blur. I don’t even remember if I shopped. This is a difficult time of year for that and other reasons, and I am choosing to spend December reading about shepherds watching their flocks by night, singing worship carols, and focusing on Immanuel, God with us. I want to create more family time, play board games, do a jigsaw puzzle, watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, The Christmas Story, and Elf. I can’t wait to cuddle my dogs on cold nights and breathe in Christmas candles and essential oils diffusing in every room. I look forward to my daughter baking cookies and filling the house with the delightful smells of Christmas.

I want to be expectant in my heart and soul, like Mary, mother of the Christ, my heart trusting in my God.

Luke 1:46-50, ESV

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”

What about you? Did you anticipate the fun or the stress of last-minute grocery runs for the cranberry sauce, post-Thanksgiving cleanup, Black Friday shopping, crowds, traffic, and the tensions that can be both beautiful and stretch us taut when around extra family during the holidays? Did you put up your Christmas tree? Lights?

Is there anticipation in the air—or just weariness?

Whatever season you are in, wherever the needle on your stress gauge is at the moment: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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He Meets Us at the Rails

Where Is God When We Go Off the Rails

[This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today on Mother’s Day.]

I thought about writing a Mother’s Day piece. I really did. But as awesome as that sounded to me, it ruled out so many people. I appreciate these Hallmark holidays in some ways, but I also know that for many, days like today can be difficult reminders of dreams yet unfulfilled or even crushed, or of family relationships that haven’t been or aren’t what they should be. Without going into the many manifestations of that, I wanted to address the pain, frenzy, panic, and weariness out there today. I’m going to lay it bare.

We may not all have our Sunday best on, with a handful of flowers, reservations at the local restaurant, gifts on the counter, and a trip planned to see family. Maybe this week was full of pulling ticks off kids, walking in late to that work meeting, facing three days of piled dishes at once, a car that wouldn’t start, a kid who mouthed off, a relationship that looked like it was heading toward marriage and abruptly broke off, a bad job review, a betrayal of some kind. Maybe it was an argument with a loved one, a bad report card, a miscommunication with your spouse that doesn’t feel like any “Hallmark moment”—or holiday, for that matter—that you’ve ever experienced before.

Mother or no mother, maybe your week doesn’t feel like walks in the sunshine and tea with biscuits.

Maybe your week chewed on some rocks, spit them out, and crunched down on them again.

Let’s be honest: Sometimes, we simply go off the rails.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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