Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wisdom for...Tuesday!

"New Year's Eve--this is the moment of beginning again...the moment in which the old touches the new, in which we offer gratitude to God."

-Catherine Doherty

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Walking With Mary: A Book Review

I recently finished Walking With Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri. And let me tell you, every step was fascinating!! I loved this book!

At Christmastime, Christians all over recognize and remember Mary, the mother of God...but the rest of the year, so many forget her. Yet what a gift she is to us from her Son! A perfect example of Christian womanhood for us to imitate, and a special motherly intercessor on our behalf.

This book was a gem in that it dug deeper into the life of Mary solely based on the Scriptures. I was impacted by reflecting on her solid faith and trust in conceiving, bearing, and raising the Son of God. She inspired me with her faithfulness, humility, and trust in God even when she was not in control and could not see the future. (such a great lesson for me!) 

Though there only a few areas Mary appears in Scripture, I was amazed at the significance and deeper meanings of them. It was so beautiful to learn more about "the Woman clothed with the sun" in Revelation, Jesus' important words to Mary from the Cross, the conversation between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, and the power of Gabriel's message to Mary in Luke Chapter 1.

One of my favorite parts was the last one I mentioned: the angel Gabriel's message to Mary (also the prayer we know as the Hail Mary). In Luke 1, we read that he called her "full of grace," God's name for her. He said "the Lord is with you," which in the Old Testament was said whenever a heavenly messenger appeared to someone on earth to give them a difficult task, a demanding mission. Mary knew this, but said yes. She was human and knew not what was ahead. She was troubled but chose faith over fear. She said yes to whatever God wanted of her and so was chosen to bear Him to the world. What an incredible woman. How blessed we are that God gave her to us as our Mother too.

This book was easy to understand despite the in-depth breaking apart of Scripture. It encouraged me, inspired me, and made me reflect on my own womanhood and how I can become more like Mary, and more like the woman God created me to be.

I highly recommend it and think both my Catholic and my Protestant brothers and sisters would enjoy it.

Want more info on this book, or interesting in purchasing it? This link has a summary and an author bio.

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for the free copy for this review. These are my honest and original comments.]

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!


I love you all, dearest friends, and I wish you a truly joyous Christmas. I pray you are able to lay aside the outer trimmings of Christmas and take a moment to invite the Christ Child ever deeper into your heart. That whatever imperfections, struggles, heartache may be in your life right now, you know that there is hope because of Him.
Yes, may all the hope and promises of Christmas bring you the peace and joy of Christ this season. He still comes, He still rescues, He still saves. Precious baby Messiah.
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born.
-"Welcome to Our World," by Christopher Rice

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Second Week of Advent

Sitting at the kitchen table with the Little Dog on my lap. Homemade spaghetti sauce warming on the stove (thank you, freezer, for giving me fresh food in the winter!). Achingly beautiful Christmas music playing in the background, making me tear up at the slightest swell of instruments.

And I'm thinking about you.

All you wonderful people who visit this site.  (um, and just a little bit about the Christmas cookies in the fridge.)You who welcome me into your home by reading my blog. (okay, I understand if that sounds a little creepy.) Who type comment love or friendly emails here and there, reminding me that my brothers and sisters live all over this big world but are so very beautifully connected.

So I wanted to say hello. And happy Advent.

You know I love this Church season of Advent. This invitation to slow down, seek quiet, trust in waiting, surrender to mystery. It wraps itself around my soul with gentle beckoning.

I responded this year to that call as with other years. I was ready to prepare Him room. I told my women's share group about my goals of finding Christ in the quiet, darkness, fasting, and waiting...just as our Advent program had focused on.

Somehow I pictured myself transformed by fervent prayer, calm solitude, overwhelming peace.

Instead these first two weeks have been more characterized by fervent grumbling, calm despair, and overwhelming uncertainty.

Don't get me wrong. I still love the season. I have my decorations up and my heart lights up when my Christmas tree does. I hosted a cookie swap with a dozen or so girlfriends. I sipped hot chocolate with two of them and crafted Christmas cards. I've absolutely relished a new Advent devotional recommended by a friend (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas).

But amidst all that, I find myself being selfish, discontent, lonely, and discouraged. I play the comparison game. I get frustrated at both jobs. I need a break from people but I get lonely at home. I choose the temporary over the eternal. I whine. I pout. I sin. It's not a pretty sight, soul-friends. And that further discourages me, because this isn't how I wanted my Advent to be. Old memories surface. Unfulfilled desires nudge. It hurts.

I'm not where I want to be. I'm not who I want to be.

Emmanuel. My heart cries out.

I keep learning.


Instead of the warmth of Advent wrapping around me, I'm feeling stripped of control and comfort.

It's cold. It's vulnerable. It's painful. It's messy. But hope draws near. Because these are the conditions of the Christmas stable. Of the uncomfortable Christmas journey to Bethlehem.

Messy manger. Messy heart.

I'm finding He chooses both to dwell within.

This Advent is not what I planned. But somehow He's using it. He's making it beautiful before I can see it.

Like Mary, He simply wants me to be open. To be. To look to Him with trust so that He can enter in and be born to the world through me. (From that amazing devotional I mentioned above!)

Maybe I'm not where I want to be or who I want to be. But I know this tender Savior enters into our messes. To transform us into who He wants us to be.

Maybe He's already here.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Advent is a time of expectation…As the season of commemorating Christ’s birth approaches, something stirs in us, something deep and profound, as if we are expecting a great miracle." 

–Catherine Doherty