What did I learn in 2020? 8-10

8. How to be grateful in even the hard things in life. 

I have been trying to practice being more grateful and counting my blessings for the last several years. However I must admit I have always struggled a little with James concept. 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

In the NIV instead of steadfastness it says perseverance, and in the NKJV it says patience. Sometimes when things are going wrong all around you, people are getting sick, some are dying, people are losing their jobs and businesses it seems impossible to find any joy in the situation. But you know there is a saying “There is always something to be thankful for”. I’ve seen it on plaques and paintings and yes sometimes you may have to struggle to look hard for it but even in pandemics and in hard years in general, there’s something there. I have mentioned before my Blessings journal that I write 3 blessings down on most days. I won’t say every day but I do try to pull it out and write most days. It may be a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or it may be the way the sun is trying hard through a cloudy, foggy day. It may be a sweet FaceTime with my grands. It may be a random phone call from one or both of my sons. But there is always something there if you just try. And yes when you find the thing to be grateful for it helps to carry you through even the hard stuff of life, I think James was right, it produces steadfastness, or perseverance or patience whatever you want to call it. 

9.  Sorrow and Joy really can coexist. 

And number 8 brings us right into number 9. I have seen sorrow over life circumstances and over pandemics but I have also known the joy of babies being born and laughter of small children still seeing the wonder of Christmas even when Santa wears a mask. I have truly enjoyed all the creative ways the weddings are still happening this year. 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5

I am sure I have not been alone in the sorrows that 2020 has brought. But even when things were so hard and they hurt so bad at times, I knew the mercies of the Lord would come if I just held on and waited, and looked for them, and when I found them, I held onto them for dear life so that when I felt the sorrow and weeping come on again, I would remember that the mercies and the joy would come. Just like James says the testing of our faith produces steadfastness which is what builds our faith for the next season of life. We must always always remember. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22

10. Laughter really is good medicine. 

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

What makes you laugh? When things have been really hard, especially this past year and I started feeling all gloomy in my heart there were times I just didn’t think I could take it anymore. I learned how to guard my heart a little bit. If you are sad and sorrowful already then you should be careful what you take in. Whether it be reading, or watching tv or the news, if your heart is sad do not watch sad things. Instead see if you can find something funny, something to get lost in and to just laugh. Sometimes yes, you have to manufacture the joy in your heart but I promise you if you will be intentional to do so, it will make you feel better if your heart can step away from the sadness and just laugh, even if it is only for a few minutes. 

So as we say a big farewell to 2020, let’s also take the lessons we have learned with us. Let us let them build our faith and perseverance and patience and steadfastness to make 2021 our best year yet. 

If you go out for NYE please stay safe tonight! 

What did I learn in 2020? 6-7

6. God can redeem anything if we let Him. 

Yes, even a year like 2020! Redemption! It’s kind of God’s thing! It’s what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. He redeemed us from what we truly deserve. Jesus death on the cross when we accept Him is what bought us back from eternity in Hell. But what I truly love to see is when a person or a circumstance that we think is “too far gone” turns out not to be. I love to see the miracle of God redeeming a lost soul! It is one of my most favorite things that God does. It is truly miraculous to see! Like dry bones coming back to life! 

One of my most favorite stories in the Bible is the prophecy of the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel. This is a vision of the resurrection of dry bones, but really it was the assurance to the captives in Babylon that they would return home. 

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley, it was full of bones.” Ezekiel 37:1

The captives in Babylon thought they were too far gone and that they would never return home. The vision that God gave was Ezekiel being set down in a valley of dry bones. Have you ever been so weary from the things that life has thrown at you that you felt like just a bag of dry bones? This has been a weary strange year for all of us. I have seen fear in people’s eyes as we walk along. People don’t hug each other and they stand off from each other when they talk, if they even do in public. People aren’t gathering together and they are afraid. We are in a really sad time in history I think. But I also know the one who holds our future and just like He gave this vision to Ezekiel concerning the captives in Babylon, I believe He wants us to know that He can and that He will breathe life into our hurting world again. 

“And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered ‘O Lord God, you know’” Ezekiel 37:3

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” Ezekiel 37:5

God can breathe life into any situation. Sometimes He is waiting on us to lay it down and sometimes He it is just His timing. But we can learn a lot from the valley of the dry bones. We can know that God is the only one who can breathe life into those too far gone situations. He loves to do that. He loves to show Himself big to us if we only ask Him. I have seen Him redeem life situations that I didn’t see how they would ever turn out for good. I am trusting Him to redeem 2020 for us so that we can stand back and say: “Look at God, won’t He just do it! 

7.  Sometimes receiving grace is harder than giving grace. 

Grace was my 2020 word that God gave me. I wasn’t sure at the time what that would look like. I thought God was asking me to give grace to others more. What I realized is that God was also telling me to give more grace to myself. Grace that I can’t do it all, whatever IT is. Grace to allow myself to feel all the feelings but just not to let them control me. Grace to live in each moment. I love the concept of grace. Wikipedia says that “grace is the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. God gives grace to us every day, but do we live in the grace that God gives us every day? But I also think that receiving the grace that God gives us goes hand in hand with giving Grace to others. Bottom line is we never know what battle other people are fighting. When you are behind that grumpy person in the grocery store line and you think they are being rude and obnoxious, maybe they are just tired from a battle they are fighting in their own personal life.

“But he said to me. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 

We have all felt pretty helpless this year. But if you have been fighting a personal battle as well, you may feel pretty weary and beat up on. Turn to Jesus and ask Him to help you through. God does His best work when we feel most at the end of ourselves. 

What did I learn in 2020? 4-5

When I reflect back on 2020, I know one of the things that many of us had to learn to do was to be alone. I know I for one was always so busy, going here or there. About 9 months before the Pandemic hit we had moved to our Lakehouse and I had a new job, but after we moved when I would get off work I would go home more so I had already slowed quite a bit from what I used to do. But all of a sudden back in March we all found our lives come to a screeching halt. We were home, just me and my husband, a lot and even then it felt like I was alone a lot of the time. I learned 

4.  I’m a better person when I take some time for myself and how to really be by myself. 

Stay with me here. Think about how many times, Jesus pulled away and got alone by himself to pray. Even immediately after He was baptized by John the Baptist, he went into the wilderness for forty days and nights and he fasted. Then the tempter came and tempted Him, but Jesus spent time before the tempter came, just Him and His Father. He also many times pulled away from the disciples to pray.

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.” Matthew 14: 23

  I have always been somewhat of a people person. But having found myself alone more this past year I learned how to be alone more and more. And being alone, I spent more time in prayer and more time just talking to my heavenly Father. And I did discover about myself that my alone time is very necessary to be a better person to other people when I am with them. 

The year 2020 was also difficult on a personal level with some circumstances that were extremely hard for our family. Number five on my list was a hard lesson learned. 

5. Sometimes things have to get worst before they get better. 

There are times in life that things go from bad to worst before they go to better. I’m sure that I am not the only one who has ever had to learn this lesson and I probably have had to learn it at other times in my life. But think on the cross here. Think about Jesus in light of everything, every circumstance you may be going through in your life. 

The night that Jesus endured being pursued by a friend, an arrest, a trial, a beating, being nailed to a cross and death on that cross, well it was a night that things just seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. Think on how the disciples and Jesus friends and His mother must have felt when he died on the cross and was laid in a tomb. They certainly thought things were over. They feared their own arrests and I am sure they were not certain that they had put their hope in the right place because of how things looked. But if it had not been for the cross, for Jesus death, we would not have his resurrection. And 3 days later He arose from the tomb. 

Now you may think that I am crazy comparing that night to my life. But what I am saying are 2 things. First in light of whatever I go through, and whatever people I love go through, in light of the cross, we can endure anything because of what Jesus did there. And second, as I said sometimes things get worse before they get better. So if you are in a situation right now that you aren’t sure how you are going to get through. Please lay it at the foot of the cross and allow Jesus to redeem it like only He can. There is a song by the group Selah called Unredeemed. I have sung it in church a couple of times, because the words mean so much to me. 

“But when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord just watch and see it will not be unredeemed.” 

Friends if you have things in your life that feel shattered please lay it before the Lord, then ask Him to help you to make it through the next steps of it and ask Him to redeem it for you. There is another scripture that comes to mind and I am clinging to it with hope. 

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25

Again, we have all had a rough year for 2020 and while we can take things from it and we can learn from it, let’s also pray for the Lord to redeem it. And if you have been through a hard season in life personally, ask God to redeem it for you, ask Him to restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. 

More tomorrow. 

What did I learn in 2020? (1-3)

Every year during the week between Christmas and New Year I sort of take an inventory of the past year. Where am I spiritually? Did I learn any new skills? Do I have any new things I am dreaming of? I like to listen to a lot of podcasts and while I have fallen off of them lately, one of the podcasts I have listened to is Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing.  It’s about 15-20 minutes long and it comes out every Tuesday. One of Emily’s practices is at the end of every season she will write out 10 things she learned during that season. I sort of took a page from her book and I have written out 10 things I learned this past year and I hope you won’t mind me sharing these this week. 

2020 has sure been a rough year hasn’t it? The other day my son and I were riding somewhere and I commented to him that very thing. I was sort of lamenting like in a poor poor pitiful me way. He didn’t let me wallow for long as he looked at me and said “Mom, I think everyone would say that this year.” He was right. Nothing like your kids keeping you in line. So when I sat down to write out my 10 things I’ve learned I had to really reflect in my soul to begin with. And no I don’t think I would be alone in this. I know there were good things that happened to some people in 2020, there were marriages and births, there were people who fell in love, but we have also all had a lot missing from our life in 2020. We have had to learn new ways to do a lot of things. We are missing out on connections that were such a part of our every day lives. Some of the things we were so blessed to do and to have are just not readily available anymore. I went to church with my son yesterday and it was so sad to me that people walked in and sat and did church and then got up and walked out. We used to attend this church as a family and I could look down the corridor of the commons area and just remember faces and people who were hugging and laughing and talking and well, that’s not there anymore, at least not the way it was. But while this has been a very hard year for all of us. I don’t believe that one thing is ever wasted for the believer. I cling to that verse that says: 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

So while I have thoroughly depressed you talking about what we have lost, I want to move on and talk about some of the things I learned. 

  1. Even the best, well thought out plans won’t fly in the face of a pandemic. 
  2. Don’t look too far out in the future. 

Those two go hand in hand so I put them together. As I was thinking this idea of making plans way out in the future I had this verse come to mind. 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 

At the beginning of 2020 we were readying ourselves at our church to launch our new women’s ministry. We had an event in January, that went very well, even though we had to reschedule because of bad weather. We attended an event in February, we held a Ladies Bible Study but then March hit and we got put on lockdown because of the pandemic. We had big plans for the year that just didn’t happen. 

But on another note, if the pandemic had not hit, I may never have had the courage to step out and start writing these devotionals. I feel I have learned so much about God and about myself because of spending time studying and writing something down. I hope and I think ,only because you tell me, that it blesses your heart as well. I want you to know every time someone writes out a thank you or shares a post I am overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you for your encouragement. 

3.  I learned to sketch. 

This one may not seem super spiritual to you but to me it was huge. I believe that God wants us to use the gifts and talents that He gives us. While I have always enjoyed crafts and creating, there are a lot of things I have not been the best at. It’s kind of like the tapestry that may be beautiful on the outside but if you look on the inside or underside of it, it looks like a big mess. Well sometimes what I create also looks like a big mess on the outside. But at times I have actually stood back and thought “did I do that?” I have been painting for about 4 years now and I am not the best but I am not the worst either. I joined a class this year and one of the things that I learned in the class was sketching out a drawing for the painting. I believe that God wants us to continue to learn until the last breath comes out of our bodies and I believe that God wants us to do our best at it. In Proverbs the Proverbs 31 woman is working with her hands. 

“She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” Proverbs 31:19

What are you learning? What would your list consist of if you did a list of things you’ve learned this year. We will talk about more tomorrow but won’t you join me on this journey this week. Start a list of what 2020 taught you. Share if you like. Have a beautiful day today. 

Thank you for reading. More on my list tomorrow.  

That’s Christmas to Me ~ JESUS!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Jesus, He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He came to earth as a baby and was born in a manger. His birth was simple, His mother a young girl, His earthly father a carpenter, they had traveled to Bethlehem for the census but had no where to lay their head. There was no room for them. But the time had come for her to give birth so He was born in a stable with smelly animals and hay and His mother laid Him in a manger to sleep. The most humble of beginnings for anyone but why did God allow this for His son, His only son Jesus, to be born in such a simple, humble beginning? But even with the simplistic form of Jesus birth, God sent angels to announce the birth of His son on a hillside to shepherds who were just doing their job. The shepherds had probably counted the sheep and made sure all were accounted for and were laying their heads down for the night. Maybe they were joking and laughing, maybe they were tired from a long day, but suddenly an angel appeared to them and told them. 

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 

And then there were a multitude of angels and they were praising God. 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

So Jesus was born in the humblest of beginnings but also with all the pomp and circumstance of angels announcing His birth. Only God could accomplish both. Humble yet magnificent all at the same time. 

Jesus came to earth to show us how to live, how to worship, how to turn our hearts toward Him. He walked this earth and He showed all the human emotions, He wept, He rejoiced, He loved, He ministered, He taught, He even got angry and yet He remained fully God and fully man. So is it any wonder that His birth was simple yet magnificent? Is it any wonder that He had shepherds and wise men seeking Him out?Is it any wonder that the Son of God was born in a manger yet the angels announced His birth?  Because He is the wonder! Because He came for all mankind. Not just for one, not just for one people group but for all! God certainly covered all the bases with His birth, maybe because that is how His earthly life would be lived out. We can know Him as all things because He IS all things to all people. 

I pray that today and every day really He will be your wonder! I pray you will seek Him out when you need a counselor! I pray that when the situation is hard and you don’t know what to pray that you will simply pray “God be mighty for me.” Sometimes when I don’t know what or how to pray, I just pray “God, be God in this.” I pray when you need a Father, you will turn to Him as your Everlasting Father. Whether you had a good example of an earthly father or not, I pray you can look to Jesus to be yours. And even in the midst of hard days, hard seasons and hard years, I pray that we can all look to Him as our Prince of Peace! 

Merry Christmas to you and your families! 

That’s Christmas to Me ~ Church

I love going to church on Christmas Eve for a Christmas Eve service. Most churches simplify things quite a bit and the Christmas Eve service is usually just a simple message with simple music and people who just simply want to focus in on the baby Jesus. There is just something about standing with other people and singing Silent Night by candlelight. I’ve been to services where we stand in a circle and I’ve also been where we just stood where we were but somehow it just always seems so Holy! 

But I also love my church all year through. I love the fellowship and the connection of being a part of the church. Church services have been different this year. The church has had to prove over and over that it is definitely more than a building. We have seen in this pandemic year that the church will stand and will adapt and will continue to minister whether they can meet in person or not. I have seen churches pay off buildings and do new hires even in the midst of this whole crazy year. In fact ours did both. We as a people have had church in the building, in our living rooms, on back porches and around fire pits. I for one am grateful to live in a time that even if I can’t go to the building that I can log onto a computer and still worship with my faith family. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love going to the building. But at times when you just can’t it’s nice to know that the building can come to you, so to speak. 

I believe that we were created to crave community. That has been part of what has been hard about this year. We have had to separate from our community somewhat because of this mean old virus. And I for one miss it. We see in the Bible that some of the very first mentions of “church” were in the book of Acts, but think about it. When Jesus was teaching to people on hillsides and in temples and beside water and people were gathering to listen to him teach they were “having church” with him. Isn’t that what the church is? A place to learn about Jesus, to fellowship with other believers, to minister to people and to learn to love each other. And when we get to have church and when we get it right it is a beautiful thing. Church is a place to go to get your heart healed and there is no better place and time than on Christmas Eve. If you have never experienced a Christmas Eve service try to find you one tonight. Even if you can’t go in person I know there are several churches that will be live-streaming theirs. So whether you meet in the building or meet in your homes online, quiet your soul and think on that Holy Night and Jesus and let Him heal your heart just a bit from a very long hard year.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:42-44

That’s Christmas to Me! ~ SANTA

Stay with me here! A lot of people wouldn’t want to put Santa in a devotion because they think it leaves Jesus out. Make no mistake, I will never leave Jesus out of Christmas! I couldn’t if I tried. But Santa is not a bad guy. Think of the wonder of children waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. Can you just remember what it was like to go to bed and to think of that cool guy who left you gifts under the tree that you would wake up to the next morning. Even when I was a child and I wasn’t sure about believing in Santa anymore, I bad wanted to BELIEVE in Santa. As an adult I know now that what I loved about Santa was the wonder and the giving that it all represented. Of course the gifts weren’t bad either. 

My parents did a great job with Santa. I can remember going to bed early on Christmas Eve and we had a time set that we had to wait for the clock to reach before we could wake our parents up to go in and see what Santa brought. Oh it was so hard to go to sleep and then we almost never slept more than 3 or 4 hours. I am the youngest so looking back, my sisters were probably pretty good sports for the lack of sleep for me too. But when I think of the anticipation and the excitement that I felt on Christmas morning every year it just makes me smile deep inside my soul! 

I never want to lose that deep in my soul smile, like a kid on Christmas morning when it comes to Christmas. But as a grown up what really gives me that deep in my soul smile, like a kid on Christmas morning is the love deep in my heart for Jesus. You see when you have Jesus deep in your soul, even when life is hard or the situation is hard, or the year is hard your soul can still be smiling deep down like a kid on Christmas morning. It doesn’t always mean the circumstances are going to be different tomorrow but it means that you know the one who is going to see you through all of your tomorrows. So smile when you see Santa Claus. Let the kids have Santa because maybe someday, one day when they hide Jesus in their heart they will know that Santa was making the way for Him all along so that their little hearts would already know that deep soul smile. 

“But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’” Luke 18:16

That’s Christmas to Me! ~ LOVE

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”  1 John 4:7

What is it about Christmas time that makes us think of love? Is it families gathering? Engagements happening? Is it watching the excitement of children? 

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

God loved us so much that He had His son, His one and only son to be born and to be our Savior. Webster says that propitiation is ‘the act of gaining or regaining the favor or goodwill of someone or something’. We needed Jesus in order to regain the favor of God. We have no comprehension of the kind of love God has to have for us to have sent Jesus. I have a lot of people I love a lot. But I wouldn’t want to sacrifice either one of my sons for them. If we even try to comprehend that love then we will have no choice but to love others. You see Love is the one thing that when used, when practiced, when showered on other people, you can’t use it up, it actually multiplies! 

At Christmastime and all the time really God’s love for us is the center of our faith! The love God had for us is manifested in the love we have for others. That’s what perfects our love. And I’m not talking about just those people that are easy to love. We all have people in our life that are not so easy to love. But when you are abiding in the love that God has for you, it is possible to love even the unlovely. Take the extra step this Christmas, even if you have to ask God to help you to love that person that maybe is not the easiest to love in your life. 

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:15-16

I pray that you are abiding in the love God has for you. I pray that as we focus this week on the baby in the manger that love in our hearts will overflow to others. 

That’s Christmas to Me ~ STAR

I am sure most of you have heard about the Christmas Star which is supposed to appear in the sky tonight! I am so excited about it. My family will be here and I hope we have clear enough skies to see it! 

When I was a child I loved the Christmas song “We Three Kings”. I’m not sure just why that song struck me so but I can remember just loving the song. Especially the chorus. 

Oh, star of wonder, star of night

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to that perfect light

I do love to walk outside on a clear night and look at the stars. They amaze me and I can remember looking at stars around Christmas time and wanting to see the star that would have led the shepherds and the wise men to baby Jesus. Well I am not sure if this is what happened to lead them to Jesus, because well God is God and He can put a star in the sky anytime He wants right? But this may be the closest we ever get to see a star that could have led them to the baby! 

The science behind this star are two planets getting so close to each other that they will appear to be touching.  They are actually really far apart but they will appear close and that will make them appear to be one bright star! Astronomers call this a conjunction. But because this one involves the two biggest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, they are calling this one a “great conjunction”. And because it is this week, the week of Christmas, many people are calling it the “Christmas Star”. 

I’m not sure if this is how God chose to form the star that led those shepherds and wise men. But think about it, they didn’t have textbooks and computers to explain to them the science behind it. They also didn’t have city lights that blocked them from seeing stars. They slept under them, they probably knew the stars way better than we do because they, especially the shepherds, possibly studied them at night and maybe they were fascinated by them. But they did know, this star, it was different. Something in them had to follow this star, and it led them to a baby, lying in a manger. But not just any baby, this was Jesus, the one who came to save us from our sins. They knew immediately that this was different. The wise men knew to follow this star because it was different. 

“And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew 2:9-10

So get outside tonight. They say the best time to see it is about 45 minutes after sunset, look to the southwest and you will see it. And when you do, think of that baby, whose mama wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger so many years ago. The same one who grew to be a man who walked this earth and ministered, and healed, and touched so many people humanly. Then he died on a cross so that He could touch all mankind and live in our hearts. When we look at that star tonight, I hope deep down in your soul, you are rejoicing with exceedingly great joy because you know this baby, this man, this Savior! 

That’s Christmas to Me ~ Family

I can hardly think of Christmas without thinking of Family! One thing about this time of year that sets it apart so well is the way we gather around with family. So many of my memories of Christmas past are as a child going to visit grandparents, as a young Mama packing my kids up and going to visit my parents and now the preparation of my own home waiting for my kids to come visit me. 

I love that family is included in the Bible surrounding the birth of Jesus. Mary was a young girl who had just found out that she would give birth even though she had never known a man. She knew there would be scandal surrounding this pregnancy, but she didn’t turn to her girlfriends to talk this out. She knew that her cousin, Elizabeth was also about to give birth in a miraculous way and she needed her. Elizabeth was older and wiser so maybe she could impart some of her wisdom to Mary. In Luke it says “Mary arose and went with haste”! I think, she wanted the comfort and peace that being with a family member could bring so she hurried to go see her. And look at Elizabeth’s response. 

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” Luke 1:41-42

Can you just imagine how that made her feel? All along the way Mary’s thoughts may have been ‘how will I explain this?’ ‘Will she believe me?’ ‘Maybe since she has a miraculous birth she will believe me and then maybe others will too!’ How accepted and wonderful Mary must have felt when those were the first words that Elizabeth spoke before Mary even had to utter a word about why she was there. Family can be like that, can’t they? They accept you with all of your stuff and your flaws no matter what. That’s just what families do! 

I love that God included stories of family in the Bible. I love that family is such a big part of Christmas. Whether you gather around a table with your family or with trays around the Christmas tree. Stop and remember family. It was important enough for God to weave a story of family in the Christmas story in the Bible and it’s important enough for us to remember at Christmas and all year through! Make sure that when your family is together this Christmas you step back and breathe it in with a prayer of thanks for your family, the family of Christmas past, and the family of your Christmas present as well as the family of your Christmas future. 

“The only gift I’ll ever need is the joy of family” ~ Pentatonix, That’s Christmas to Me