Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Birthday GaGa


There have been lots of firsts this year. First Christmas without her, first wedding without her and now the first birthday without her. My sweet grandmother would have been 82 today.

It's so easy to think that I didn't have her for long enough. But those 21 years she impacted me more than most people will my entire life.

I've been thinking for a while about how hard today would be for me and my family. And then I decided there have been plenty of tears cried- but that's not what I want today to be about. After all birthday's are suppose to be a celebration aren't they? :)

So Today I want to celebrate. The wonderful woman that the Lord blessed us with. She had the most beautiful humble spirit and a smile that literally lit up a room. My grandmother was one of those people that never met a stranger. She had the ability to make everyone she came in contact with feel instantly connected to her and loved. Everyone was welcome in her home. She never spoke ill of anyone but chose to use her words to be uplifting. No matter what the circumstance was she always rejoiced. No one and no situation was a reason for despair but a chance to grow and lean on God. She loved unconditionally and served selflessly. She was one of the most visible examples of Jesus I've ever seen. Her heart was so in tune with the Lord it just came naturally like breathing. She wasn't in want but was content with exactly what the Lord gave her. She touched my heart in a way that will last my whole life.

So today is about celebration and thankfulness. For the blessing she was, the sweet memories that we will always carry with us and her rich legacy that is a part of every life she touched.

Phillipians 1:3- I thank my God every time I remember you.

We love you GaGa!!!


video

Heston's 3rd Birthday







Anne's 60th




Jessi & Emily



The fam comes to Waco



Grace & Ruby



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mary's Story

I'm in a class this semester called Jesus in Film and Novels. The class was at 8 AM and so I honestly wasn't looking forward to it but it has been fascinating. We have read/watched the best of what is out there about Jesus in both arenas. We've read novels by atheist to preachers and everything in between. Some of the stories were so absurd it was a struggle to keep reading and others captivated me.

For the end of the semester we had to complete a Jesus narrative. Our assignment was to write our own 3,000 word “historical fiction from the New Testament world” and an accompanying analysis. I am not by any means a talented writer but here is my story:

“There she goes with her illegitimate child.”

"Look at him, the fruit of adultery!"

The Snickering and rude comments are almost like background noise every time I walk down the street with every eye on me. It’s a feeling I used to wonder if I would ever get used to. Then again, what about my life was normal? A virgin giving birth to the Messiah. YHWH has a history of making the ordinary something great.

I’m not one that likes attention. Before Jesus, I would walk back from the well and no one would even notice me. Now I was the center of their attention and sometimes I longed for the time when my life was quiet.

But I’ve learned. Not that I’m used to it- but I’ve learned how to handle it. Not from my own strength but from YHWH’s.

On my weaker days I wish they would just be quiet, but the again, part of me feels sorry for them. Sorry that they don’t understand the magnitude of my little boy. The world knows him not. But one day they will.

All generations will call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me- His humble and unworthy servant. He chose me to carry his son, something that has changed my life.

There he is, skipping down in front of me. With his curly brown hair and dark brown eyes... who would ever imagine looking at him that there was Divinity? One day. One day they will understand. It’s not for them to know yet. YHWH reveals things in his timing. YHWH’S timing is something I’ve come to know and in knowing know that I will never understand. His ways are so much higher than mine, and I trust them.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.

Just as he promised. He promised and he will fulfill. That’s my YHWH.

------

As I looked up I saw my small mud-brick home- the one place where I could escape the judgmental eyes.

I set down my jar of water. The weight lifted, but the weight of the situation did not.

I usually try to go to the well early in the morning before everyone is up, but last night we were up late. Last night was different. Last night we had visitors.

It started out like a normal quiet night in Nazareth. Joseph had a good day fishing yesterday and we were having it tonight.

I love the aroma of cooked fish when it fills the kitchen. As I inhaled the smell of fish and honeycomb I looked around the room and soaked it all in –I feel so blessed.

I have so much to be thankful for. A loving husband, a wonderful son - YHWH is good.

I looked over at Jesus playing on the floor. I will never forget the night that Gabriel came to me to announce his birth. I found myself chuckling, who could forget being visited by an angel?

He was radiating with a dazzling light coming off him when he appeared before me. I hardly had time to think. I was so frightened I could hardly move. I have heard of angels visiting before but never imagined it would ever happen to me. I’m so…ordinary.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored!...”

What? Highly favored … me? What did I do to deserve YHWH’S favor? What did I do to deserve Him at all? Surly he had appeared to the wrong woman.

I tried to breath. What was this angel here for?

“The Lord is with you.”

Gabriel told me not to be afraid. My heart stopped pounding, my breathing became more regular as peace flooded through my veins.

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Me? I, Mary of Nazareth, would be the mother of the Savior? What about the noble and distinguished women of Israel? What did I do to deserve this honor? So many had dreamed of this and wished for it. I had never thought that it could ever be me.

Then it hit me, this must be a mistake. I am a virgin. How can I give birth to the Messiah? I am still betrothed to Joseph.

“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail”

My heart was overflowing with joy. I was to be the one that brought the Messiah into the world! Elizabeth was to have a child! What joy! I quieted my heart before YHWH. May His word be fulfilled. I am his servant.

From that moment on my life would never be the same. YHWH had chosen me. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t- but He chose me. May His word be fulfilled.

The snickering, the judgmental glances- none of it matters. The Lord found favor with me. I am blessed.

--------

I placed the water basin beside our mat.

“Everything’s ready” I said as I scooped up my little boy into my arms.

He smiled at me as I looked into those big brown eyes. I could look into those eyes forever. In moments like these I’d forget that he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end- my little boy.

“Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the world, who causes to come forth bread from the earth,” Joseph gave thanks for our meal.

“This looks great Mary,” Joseph said as he poured the water over my hands and watched it drip into the basin. I held Jesus over the basin so he too could clean his hands too before we all sat down to eat.

--------

As I began my cleaning I heard horses galloping. What was going on? It sounded like a small army. Our road typically didn’t get much foot travel, as it was 20 miles from the city center. This noise sounded like an entire army. My mind raced, was it Herod?

Then there came a knock at our door. Who would be calling this late in the night? Joseph sat up quickly and handed Jesus to me. His face looked stern. He motioned for us to go into the back room and told me not to come out till he called.

As I stood there I put my finger over my mouth and made a “shh” sound so Jesus would know not to make any noises.

Who was at my door? Were they coming to harm us? My heart was pounding as I listened quietly. I pulled my little 16-month-old in tighter closer to my chest. He had a way of calming me, just something about his presence.

“The Lord will protect us. The Lord will protect us,” I kept repeating the truth in my mind. I could only make out faint mumbling. Who was out there? It sounded like Joseph was talking to two, no, three men.

After what seemed like an eternity I heard him say, “Mary, could you please come out here for a second. We have visitors.”

Joseph’s voice sounded kind and put me at ease. There was nothing to be afraid of here.

Visitors? Was someone here to see Jesus? Were the shepherds back again?

That night was such an encouragement. YHWH seems to send refreshment right when I need it. The world hardly took notice when Jesus was born. It was a humble birth. This was not the way I pictured the Messiah coming into the world. It was so different from coming in power.

We are in the house of David, so when the time came for the census we traveled to Bethlehem. Once we arrived four days later we couldn’t find a room.

I remember Joseph and I were so weary. We had been traveling for so long and just wanted a place to stay. Jesus was born in a manger.

If I didn’t know better I would think I was crazy. How unlikely! A virgin giving birth- how does that happen? But all things are possible with YHWH. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

The shepherd’s visit reminded me. It reminded me of YHWH’s faithfulness.

As I stepped out of the back room I saw five men standing there. Four were dressed in ornate robes. One other who must have been their servant was carrying a breathtaking golden case with intricate details on it. Each man had a scarlet sash of fine linen tied around his chest just below the robes.

I noticed that the four men were not looking at me but had their gazes fixed on Jesus. Upon seeing him they immediately bowed down before him. I set Jesus on the ground and looked over at Joseph.

“This is Gaspar, Melchior, Hormisdas and Balthasar. They saw a star and have come from the East to worship and bring gifts for Jesus.”

I walked over to join my husband and only then did I see what was outside our window. The whole sky was lit up with the torches from the army. There were dozens of soldiers and in the front were four beautiful stallions.

Never before had I seen horses like these. With their silky charcoal color, arched neck and broad foreheads- they were the most beautiful animals I’d ever seen.

Behind them was the army.

What a spectacle! The whole town was outside watching. What must they be thinking at this display of royalty? What must they be wondering at the display of soldiers here in our tiny city, at our humble home?

The servant opened the chest and inside three giant jars gleamed. One by one the men walked over to the chest and picked up a gift and laid it before Jesus. Melchior stayed on his knees before my son.

As Gaspar got closer I realized that he wasn’t carrying a jar but another intricately designed silver chest. This chest had rubies along the side.

Hormisdas brought forth a five-sided jar. The jar had golden leafs around the side. As he opened it the sweet aroma of frankincense filled the room.

Balthasar brought forth the third gift. This was a large oval jar filled with myrrh.

There would have to be this army to protect these gifts! I’ve heard about such wealth but never thought I would behold it.

“Please accept our humble gifts.” Melchior said as three others joined him on the floor and bowed down again.

I pulled back and just looked at my boy. Melchior had called his gifts of great value humble. Everything about this little boy made all else nothing in comparison. Moments like these were a reminder that there was nothing ordinary about this little boy.