Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Letters to Jesus

She wrote a letter to Jesus and she gave it to my husband. Maybe in her sweet little mind he was the closest thing to God since he is her Pastor. We held the letter for a little while wondering what was inside. If a little girl, all of seven, could write a letter to God, what would it say?

In a matter of minutes we would find out.

Part of me wanted to leave it unopened, like it was meant for His eyes alone. And yet I knew that somehow we had been included in this little girls love note to God.

This is what it said:

Dear God,

How do you think I look?

Do you think I’m pretty? I hope so.

I love you. Ok?


We laughed for a little while and then I said, “Well, that’s a woman in training for you.”

My husband chimed in, “Well, it would be if she asked the question five more times.”

With a dirty look thrown in his direction and a pain in my heart, I felt questions stirring in my heart.

What is it about our gender that craves beauty longing for acceptance? If we truly knew how God sees us…would we stop asking or looking for our value in the ones around us?

I wanted to take this little girl in my arms and give her the answer.

Sweet girl,

I think you are beautiful.

You can ask me a thousand times and my answer will be the same.

My child, you are lovely. You were created in My image.

Fashioned and formed, a workmanship that I delight in.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to hearts like yours.

I love you more.

Let God be your mirror. Let Him fill the deepest longings of your heart. You can ask of Him a thousand times and He will never grow tired of you asking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Largest Christmas Angel

They say that big things come in small packages, but I say sometimes extraordinary things come in overly large packages cleverly disguised as something else, something brilliant. And if we are not careful we could miss it entirely, looking only at the outward appearance and how the gift is wrapped. Terry was one of those cleverly disguised and overly large gifts. Terry had a smile that could light up the room, a contagious laugh, and the purest heart of a child that loved anyone and everyone. Towering over the other children, red hair, and glasses Terry was mentally handicapped, over six-foot tall, and two hundred pounds of childlike love trapped in the body of a thirty-one year old man.

Terry was in my Children’s church faithfully and I taught him just like I taught the other children. When we would exit the sanctuary after worship to attend “our church” all eyes were on the children. The children often held hands and Terry was right there with them carefully holding the hands of someone else’s baby. Finding an angel costume for our Christmas program was going to be somewhat challenging that year, even now I have no idea how we pulled it off, but the memory of that Christmas program will forever be etched in my mind as one of the greatest.

In Gods house there is a place for everyone and Terry belonged in Children’s church and all six foot of him belonged in an angels costume singing off key celebrating the birth of our Lord wrapped in flesh so that we might identify with the Christ-child. Teaching Terry was challenging at times and even though none of the children were intimidated by his size, I was at times. I couldn’t always understand him, so Terry would pull on my hand and I would go airborne! Terry gave me two gifts during those years, one was the privilege of seeing the purest childlike heart, the other was a Christmas present he had picked out for me by himself. Everyone in my Children’s church knew I wanted a silver PT Cruiser, at the time it was my dream car.

Terry came tromping up with a gift bag smiling ear to ear. His mother said, “He wants you to open it now. When he saw it in the store he just had to get it for you.” His eyes never left my face as I opened the gift, I giggled as I looked inside. In the bag was a silver, remote control PT Cruiser and I couldn’t believe he had remembered the exact car and color that I wanted. Terry loved my expression so he giggled with me and clapped his hands with so much joy. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received, seeing through the eyes of a child and the largest Christmas angel EVER.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marveling at Mary

Can you imagine being young and betrothed, wide-eyed and hopeful of what is ahead, and then all of a sudden the world stops for one tender moment and you hear this:

“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women!”

She’s bewildered, confused, and frightened. What does all of this mean?

Once again she hears the words from the angel Gabriel, “You have found favor.”

He calms her troubled mind, tells her of her favor and worth, and then drops the bomb.

…And you are going to give birth to the Son of God.

Perhaps she had to remind herself to breathe as she asks, “How can this be?”

And the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;”

She takes it all in. He speaks again, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

The favored one chosen to carry the Son of God speaks, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

The angel departs. She decides to visit Elizabeth and she hears once again, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told from her Lord.”

Mary begins to sing and I have my answer to why she was chosen.

1.) Her responsive obedience was the very thing that made her highly favored and the one handpicked by God.

There was just something about her; sweet and unassuming as her song spills over from the depths of who she is.

2.) Mary was devoted to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

3.) Mary was humble: “For He has regarded my lowly estate.”

4.) Mary knew God and His character: “For He who is mighty has done great things.”

She speaks of His holiness, His mercy, His strength...and how He fills the hungry with good things.

I sit in wonder as I look at the life of Mary and how the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. Overshadowed is the same word used for the cloud from which the voice spoke at the Transfiguration. Both refer to the cloud that manifested the glory of God.

I identify with her questions and marvel at her responsive obedience. As I think about the things God has asked me to carry, I am reminded of all the times I have questioned him. How can this be?

But, my prayer is that I will take those questions and open my hands to give them over to the One who is higher than I. May I respond in obedience and sing a song of the faithfulness of God.

What has God asked you to carry?

Sweet friend, what He calls you to do He will equip you to do. May He overshadow you with His presence. Let’s press on together and light up this world!

(Inspired by Luke Chapter 1)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Wishes and Christmas loss

She would have been ten.

I just assume that I only make girls. Being a self-professed girly girl, I soak in all the sugar and spice. Fairy tales and make believe, chasing after dreams like clouds thinking if I jumped high enough I would hold them in my hand.

I haven’t thought about her in a while. But, for years thoughts of her consumed my waking moments and my dreams.

It was Christmas time; all was jolly and bright with the gentle mixture of fear. What would motherhood be like and would I be good at it? All I knew was that strong desire to mother was within and we would figure it out together. I would grow into motherhood with each breath she took.

Two days before Christmas something happened. I knew something was wrong, I began to miscarry a dream, and a fragile life. I spent a few hours in an ER room longing to hear a heartbeat that was never meant to beat.

I pulled myself together, packed our gifts in the car, and said goodbye to my mother. All I really wanted was to stay there with her, but there was more family to be seen with Christmas days away. I tried my hardest to celebrate the birth of the baby that changed everything for me. My Jesus.

A tiny cry that all of heaven celebrated, the God-child. Immanuel, God with us. And even as my heart broke and my questions spilled over, God was with me every step, unafraid of my questions. Never once did I feel Him condemning me. I just felt His all-consuming love.

I cradled the new life around me, and new additions to our family. Then I slipped upstairs to grieve without watching eyes. I crawled in bed, pulled the covers over my head, and fell apart.

My mother-in-love followed me upstairs, sat next to me, and cried with me.

“It was our baby too.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment or that feeling, but at times I have returned that same gift of just crying with those who are hurting.

I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I know so many of you are dealing with a loss of a loved one or maybe even a death of a dream. I pray that you find deep joy this season and know that God-child came wrapped in flesh so that we might identify with Him. His love caused Him to leave the comforts of heaven to die for our sins.

Because of the baby in a manger, I have great joy and hope.

Sitting on my mantle is a Christmas angel that says, “Believe in Miracles.” It brought me great comfort in a time of loss and waiting. God has answered me in the sweetest way and restored what was lost. But, I haven’t forgotten that Christmas filled with tears and how God met with me and cradled me through it all.

If you are experiencing loss, I just want you to know that I am thinking of you, of your pain, and if I could, I would sit beside you and carry that pain with you and just cry.

My prayers and thoughts are with you. May peace surround you and the arms of God cradle and comfort you! You are not forgotten.