Friday, December 27, 2013

Thoughts on Mary, Luke 1 & 2


Have you ever taken the time to notice what the Bible says about Mary, the mother of Jesus?  You almost have to read between the lines, because there are only a few comments here and there... often overlooked when you read the Christmas story.  {At least I overlooked them.}  A few years back, I began to notice those little one-liners about Mary that Luke mentioned in his Gospel.

Luke 1:27 "... a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary." 
Virginity is laughed at in our culture today-- but a person's virginity is very precious to God.  If Mary had been a "loose" girl, God never could have chosen her to bear the Son of God!

Luke 1:28  "And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
What does one have to be like to be  highly favored?  Righteous. Holy. Submissive spirit. Pure in body, mind, and heart.

Luke 1:29  "But when she saw him,{the angel} she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was."
Mary was troubled at first. She was scared!  She knew she would be giving up her flawless reputation.  She took the news patiently, with faith.

Luke 1:34 'Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”'
She wasn't afraid to ask a question.  She wanted to fully understand what was going on.

Luke 1:38 "Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her."  Mary trusted the Lord with all her heart.  Her heart of submission to the Lord was beyond compare.

Luke 1:45 Elizabeth blessed Mary for her faith in the Lord to carry out this honorable task. "...Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 2:6-7 "So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Mary gave birth in a barn! {or a cave}.  Is there any documentation of complaining here?  NONE!  She was so patient and trusting.

Luke 2:16  "And they {the shepherds} came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger." Mary was very gracious to allow all these strangers to come visit her new baby immediately after the birth.  She seemed to understand that He was not "her" child, but belonged to the Lord and all mankind.

Luke 2:19  "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  
She didn't call her friends.
She didn't tell everyone.
She didn't even tell her husband!
These things were part of her relationship with God.

Luke 2:22-24  "Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Luke 2:39  "So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth."
Matthew 2: 13-15   "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Joseph and Mary were obedient to the law of the Lord.  Just think... they could have been proud and thought, "This is God in the flesh... these rituals for man are not necessary." but the thought never crossed their minds.  They obeyed without hesitation. Had Joseph not obeyed and immediately fled to Egypt, we may not have had a Savior at all!  God knew that Joseph and Mary were the ones whom He could trust to properly care for His only Son!

Luke 2:51  "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart."  Imagine having a son who obeyed in all things?  Pride could have easily crept in at that point, too, but Mary always knew that He was God's Son, and she was only the vessel for Him to carry out His plan.

John 2:1-5 "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.   
Mary always believed He was God.  Though He had never yet performed a miracle, she knew He was capable of anything.  She was His number one fan!

There is so much we can learn from Mary!  She is a model of Christian womanhood and motherhood.  She is an inspiration to me: to be a better, more focused mother; to be the "biggest fan" of all of my children! One who ponders things in her heart, rather than blabbing to all.  One who obeys in all things, out of my love for my God, and as an example to them.  Mary is an example for our young daughters, too!  Protecting her virginity, keeping her heart and mind pure.  Waiting for God's calling, and willing to obey whatever He calls them to do!

I hope the next time you read the Christmas story, you, too, will see Mary in a different light.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Other Side

It was just an email.

But the words, to me, were shocking.... and cutting.

They were helpful suggestions but to me were presented in a selfish, judgmental way.  I felt attacked.  I was hurt.

I was angry!  

I knew I shouldn't have let it bother me, but rather just roll with it.  But I just couldn't.  I was too mad!  I also knew that if I didn't handle it properly, I could hurt their reputation, my own, and worse yet, my Savior's.  So I did something I hadn't done for a few weeks.... I went to the Word.  I knew I couldn't face this person, or handle this situation on my own.  I knew I would lash out or slander or accuse and I really really didn't want to do that!  I wanted to honor the Lord, but I just couldn't handle it!

The ladies retreat I had gone to with my church group just a few days prior did a study on Mary and Martha.  I learned a lot about my self during those three retreat sessions!  As I read through the booklet, looking for ways to tame the Martha in me, I found Hebrews 12:14-15:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord;
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, 
and thereby many be defiled.

I read this, and re-read it, and re-read it again.  "Lord, I just can't do this!  You have to do it for me!"

Now I know what it is like to be on the other side of the fence; he receiver of such criticism.  How often have I been the one offering "helpful suggestions" that, I am sure, were equally - if not more- harsh and hurtful.

I was also very careful not to talk to too many people about the situation.  I only talked to the necessary people to handle the situation.  I didn't even want to tell Hubby, because I knew his protective hairs would stand on end and I didn't need encouragement to be more angry!  I only told those who could help, and pray.  {I was trying to be wise!}

Thankfully the story has a happy ending!  I knew people were praying for me, and the Holy Spirit was working.  The eve before I had to face this person again, I had peace!  The Spirit of forgiveness I had been asking for came.  I had peace.  When it came time to face the music, God had not only given me peace, but also joy.  I had learned many valuable lessons:

1.  Keep your mouth shut!
2. Take it to the ONE who can fix the situation.
3. Ask for prayers from the people involved-- or the un-involved, 
who have no idea who the offending party is.
4. Submit to the Lord's help for which I so fervently asked.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter 2013

Easter is not really the best term for what we celebrate on that holiday.  I prefer "Resurrection Sunday".  That explains what the celebration is all about.

Normally our church goes "all out" for Resurrection Sunday: breakfast, sunrise service, then the usual Sunday school and morning service, with a focus on Salvation.  This year was a little different.  It seemed as though we spent the entire week preparing for Resurrection Sunday.  Beginning last Sunday, we had a special evangelist visiting.  We had revival meetings every night, Sunday through Friday, with the exception of Wednesday night which was our traditional "Crucifixion service" (very special!)  So by the time Sunday rolled around, my heart was clean, I was in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, and was already praising Jesus in my heart for the unspeakable gift He is to us.

There is so much joy in having a close fellowship with the Lord Jesus Himself!  When I am walking in the Spirit, I am not afraid of the things that normally scare me, I have peace.  I am not upset about the things that normally upset me, I am Spirit-controlled.  My mind is on Jesus, not my worries.  I am focussed on my Savior, not my sins.  I have so much to be thankful this "Easter season".

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our New Hobby: Bird Watching

I always thought anyone who thought bird watching was a pleasant past time was either old, eccentric, or just plain boring.  Well, I guess I fall into one of those categories now;-)  Since we have snow this year, we started feeding the birds on the first day of our first snow.  Our first visitors were typical.

 Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal, and some type of snow bird, we have several of these.

 Red-Bellied Woodpecker
He has black & white spots on his back but was too timid to stick around for a good picture.

 Downy Woodpecker
I think he's cute, its a lot smaller than the red-headed or red-bellied ones.  He has a big white strip down his back an all his markings are symmetrical!

 Chickadee {so cute!}

And here is a new {to me} one...
European Starling, they are different colors in different seasons-
More spots in the winter: more black in summer.

A couple of Blue Jays frequently stop by, but not when I have the camera ready. ;-)

We aren't really doing a unit study, but it is fun to hear the kids discussing the bird types.  Even the younger ones are picking up on them.  When I got the starling picture, {I had never seen this bird before} Peter had already found it in the bird book!  He is particularly interested in the birds.  I sort-of put him in charge of feeding them, but Joe likes to do it sometimes, too.

I must add that I really enjoyed photographing them, too!  I used my big lense and it did a great job.  {I was afraid all the fingerprints on the windows would show, but they don't!;-) }

Happy winter!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Delectable Hot Cocoa

Living 25 miles from an affordable grocery store has prompted me to get creative and frugal over the years.  One thing I started making several years ago is my own hot cocoa mix.  This is not the kind with instant milk.  This has real milk and not only is it good, but I have recently tried something that has made it even BETTER!!

Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa

Its so easy!  I remember my Dad talking about his mother making hot cocoa and how good it was.  I figured if Grandma could make it work with eleven kids during the great depression, surely I could figure something out!

I am into using glass pint and quart jars for everything these days.  
Fill a pint jar about 2/3 full of raw sugar (or white sugar)  
Fill the rest with Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder.  
Mix well, then add to milk and microwave it for one minute. Stir.
I microwave it a little longer to the temperature I like.  Oh, so yummy!  

Its the perfect treat for after a certain little person takes a good nap without a fight ;-)  (I like it after my {very rare} nap, too!)

Another variation is to pour about 3/4 cup of coffee, add the mixture and half-and half creamer!  It tastes so creamy and mocha-ish!  It certainly warms you up and lately all I'm doing is looking for ways to warm up!!

The weather is so up-and-down!  We've had 0 to 40 degrees in the last week.  Freezing rain,  a thunderstorm in January, and now its right around 0 with probably a -20 windchill!  {I can't wait for spring!!}

I'm Linked up at Our Simple Country Life  Frugally Sustainable

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Psalm 118

A lot of the psalms repeat the saying, "His Mercy endures forever".  I've read it many times, but this time it really struck me.  Maybe I was especially in need of mercy.  Maybe it just never really sunk in.

His mercy endures forever.

Heaven is forever!  Forever in heaven I will reap the benefits of His mercy!  FOREVER!!!   Wow!  What did I ever do to deserve that?  That's the best part... nothing.  There has never been and will never be anything I could possibly do to deserve heaven.  Its a free gift for the taking.

When Jesus willingly died on the cross for our sins, He took my {our} punishment.  He was buried.  He rose again on the third day, to give us life. {1 Corinthians 15:3-4}  He ascended into heaven to live eternally and prepare a place for those of us who believe. {John 14:1-6}

{Merriam-Webster Dictionary}
Intransitive verb: 1 a: to have a firm religious faith
b: to accept something as true, genuine, or real
2: to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
3: to hold an opinion
Transitive verb: 1 a: to consider to be true or honest
b: to accept the word or evidence of
2: to hold as an opinion: suppose

During His ministry on earth He made it clear that before we believe we must repent.  Luke 5:32  "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

{Merriam-Webster Dictionary}
Intransitive verb: 1: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life
2 a: to feel regret or contrition
b: to change one's mind
Transitive verb: 1: to cause to feel regret or contrition
2: to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not  of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2: 8-10


There were other verses in this chapter that touched my heart as well.  I have been convicted to teach my children verses about trusting in the Lord during times of fear. I believe this country is facing some serious and drastic changes in our lifetime, and even more so in the lifetimes of our children.  They need verses to cling to.  I remember reading "The Hiding Place", the story of Corrie Ten Boom.  The Ten Boom family were Dutch Christians who were imprisoned for hiding Jews from the Nazis during   World War II.  Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp and clung to Psalm 32: 7 "You are my hiding place, You shall preserve me from trouble"  Psalm 118 also has several verses about trusting in the Lord instead of being fearful:
6.The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

8. It is better to trust in the Lord
than to put confidence in man.
9. It is better to trust in the Lord 
than to put confidence in princes.

13. You pushed me violently, that I might fall.
but the Lord helped me.
14.The Lord is my strength and song.
and He has become my salvation.

There are people in this country that believe our president has all the answers; that he is moving this country in the right direction.  But we can't place our faith in our government.  There is Someone far above him who is just using our president to fulfill HIS greater plan.  Our Sovereign God is really the One in charge.  Even though it seems like everything is falling apart, it is just part of the plan.  Though it isn't easy, it is an honor to be alive in a time when we can read through the Bible and then look around and see some of His prophesies being fulfilled right now!  We also need not be afraid for the worst part... because... we won't be here for that part, anyway!

Food for thought.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Our Laundry Diet

I got tired of feeling overwhelmed with all the laundry I have to do in a week.  I got tired of having mountains of laundry piled on my sofas in our living area because I couldn't keep up with folding.  I'd just HAD IT!

So what do I do when I've just HAD IT???  I do something a little crazy.  I usually make a bit of a fool of myself in the process, but this crazy idea was a good one!

We went on a laundry diet.

When you cut weight, you cut back on food.  When you cut laundry, you cut back on how much you wear in a week.  I gave everyone {who's laundry I actually wash} a limit of how many outfits they can wear in one week.  I mean, come on, it's winter.  How many outfits does one really need, anyway?

1 Sunday church outfit: wear it to the morning and evening services.

1 Wednesday church outfit: nice but casual, also worn to any other outing for the week.

2 Play outfits.  If it gets a little dirty, wear it anyway!  I don't care about these clothes anyway!  If it gets wet from sledding, hang it to dry and re-wear it next time!  If you trash it playing in the creek, wear it in the creek next time 'cuz you're out of luck!

1 Homeschool academy uniform--same pants or skirt for both days. (Tuesday & Thursday afternoons)

With the exception of socks and underwear, I should only be washing 5 items of each per child, every week!  The first week we did this, I had ALL the laundry done in ONE day! {Except for towels & tablecloths, which I need to wash twice per week.}  

I have to admit its a little hard to keep track of whether or not everyone is following the "rules".  It helps if I take the 5 minutes to help them pick their outfits and put them in a specific place.  

I put myself on the same "diet" so I can be a good example to them.  I wear it if its a little dirty {at home}.  I wear the same outfit from Wednesday night church to the grocery store on Thursday.  I realized how wasteful I was in the process.  Not only does it ease my laundry suffering, but I look at it as being a good steward of both time and money.


Linked up at Raising Arrows.