Mary, Did You Know?

 

Maybe it’s because I have a newborn so close to Christmas, but for the last couple of days “Mary, Did You Know” has really been resonating with me.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you

She had to have known some of this. I mean an angel did appear to her and tell her what was about to happen. An angel did appear to her husband and stop him from divorcing her. The angel appeared to him again and directed them to Egypt- saving the baby’s life.

Surely, she knew that this baby was special. Elizabeth confirmed it during her visit when John the Baptist leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth prophesized over Mary and her child! Surely, she had an idea that BIG things were going to happen with him. But what was about to happen, I’m sure her human heart could not foresee.

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Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?

But did she know- no way. Even if she were told exactly what would have happened- she was human. Life would get in the way. I’m sure there were days when Baby Jesus was just a baby- crying, pooping, and wanting to be held.  Days she was tired, worn-out, and just going through the motions.

Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God

I’m sure that Mary’s role as mom was a blessing, but I’m also sure there were days that weren’t glamourous. I’m sure that though she knew what the angel had told her, those thoughts would get pushed to the back of her mind and the day ahead was all that was on her mind.

As He grew into a boy, was it obvious He was the Son of God? Did he get sick? Did he enjoying working with dad in the shop? Did he need reminders to do his chores? Only Mary knows. (Well, probably Joseph, too.)

Mary, did you know?

Did she know what He would do? Probably not. But did she know that there was amazing potential? I’m positive that’s a yes! The first public miracle Jesus performed was at her request. She had faith in her Son though he responded his time had not yet come.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

As these song lyrics ring through my head, I just look at my baby boy in amazement. I know God has big things in store for him. Will he be a carpenter, office worker, artist, missionary, evangelist, a pastor? I have no idea. Will it be easy, no- but it will be worth it!  Will he need motherly direction- you better believe it.  Am I equipped to give it? No, but with the Lord’s help and guidance I pray he gets it from me.

Did Mary, too, wonder if she was equipped to be the Mother of our Lord? Did she wonder if Jesus would follow in Joseph’s footsteps and become a carpenter? Could she have imagined him becoming a teacher and mentor to so many people?  Could she have ever known the miracles that would happen because of Him? Did she wonder just how exactly would He save His people? When? Where? So many questions, so few answers. But one big thing- Faith! Faith in God. Faith in His word. Faith in His promises.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

If young Mary had any idea the difficulties that lie ahead- how rejected Jesus would be, the blaspheming, the Cross…  could she have even bared it?

Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the Great I Am

I hope she was just full of Hope. Those days that motherhood and wifely duties got the best of her, I hope that she remembered that God had a plan and had invited her to have a front row seat to it. I hope she remember what she prophesized about her Son when she visited Elizabeth. I hope that she always shined a light of faith everywhere she went.

Did Mary know? I doubt it, but she did have faith! She walked by faith not by sight. God, however- God knew, and He chose her. He led the way, prepared the path. She experienced life as a mother, just like you and me. She had highs and lows. Days of joys and days of sorrow. She was able to witness her Son grow into a ministry that she may or may not have chosen for him. She bore witness to miracles. She had her heart pierced just like the prophet had said.

Mary had a front row seat to God’s mighty plan to save His people from themselves. Only one person was there from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ earthly life- that was Mary. I think it’s safe to say now that Mary did not expereince joy in that moment. But if she could look back now and see God’s mighty plan, she would be filled with Joy! If she looked back now, her joy would have out-weighed her sorrow.

Let’s not forget when we look at that Nativity Scene- that same Mary kneeling next to the manger also knelt before the foot of the Cross. Christmas is just the beginning of the most beautiful love story of all time.

Did Mary know? She didn’t have to. She walked by faith from the moment the angel spoke to her. All throughout the stages of Jesus’ life, she, too, walked by faith.

Whether or not you have a newborn, I hope this season of Christmas brings you hope. Hope that there is a God who loves you and cares for you. SO much that He sent His only Son to Earth to die for you. While Mary could have never known what was about to unfold, she definitely had faith in a mighty and powerful God who could do all things- including allowing a virgin to give birth to the Savior.

So for all you mothers out there, be like Mary. Have faith even when things are hard!  We may not see all the moving pieces of God’s plan, but He knows! Let him lead the way. Walk by faith!

While we have not been given the mission of being the Mother of our Savior, we have been given the gift of this Savior. We have been given the opportunity to live with God because God came to us!

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

 

 

Temporary Bubbles

Bubbles! This morning I sat outside watching all five of my children happily play with bubbles. Smiles. Laughter. Blowing bubbles at each other. Running around in circles. Comparing the sizes of bubbles.  Popping. Blowing. Repeat.

So much fun! For about 15 minutes… Then someone bumped into someone else. Bubbles spilled. Others ran out. Soon we were left with empty containers. The fun was over… well for the four oldest. (The baby sat and played with empty containers pretending to blow bubbles having just as much fun as before.)

As fun as the bubbles are, they are only temporary. Eventually we will run out of bubbles. Someone will spill their bubbles. It will happen. The other kids will offer to share, but eventually the bubble solution will be gone and an empty container will be in the trash can.

This is so much like life’s worldly promises. Money, status, power, promotions, good grades, popularity, possessions… All of it will run out. We entered the world naked and naked we will leave it.

But the world offers us so many temporary solutions. It’s hard to overlook them. Temporary fun. Temporary satisfaction. Temporary distractions. But it will run out. It will leave us empty. Just like those bubbles. Eventually the bottle will be empty, and the fun will be over.

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Fact- I am emotional. I know I am sensitive emotionally, so I try not to react with emotions. (By the grace of God, progress has been made here… but I still struggle.) This means that I tend to stuff my emotions down, reflect, and decided whether or not to react. Usually, I choose not to react, because I am also a peace maker. I do not like conflict. I avoid it at all cost… sometimes that means at the cost of my own emotional well-being.

Another fact- I am pregnant. Being pregnant means my emotions are heightened, and I am overly  sensitive. I easily feel offended, hurt, saddened, misunderstood.

So lately I have found that in order to deal with these emotions I have turned to a worldly satisfaction of food… Yep… I feel annoyed= I need chocolate. I feel frustrated= I need something crunchy. I feel bored= I need something salty. I feel sad= I want ice cream.

These foods do offer a temporary solution. Well… until the candy bar runs out or until the bottom of the chip bag appears. Almost immediately after eating whatever I choose to eat, I feel poorly and wish I had chosen a healthier food.

The really sad thing is this can be justified by the world, because we live in the world. But the truth is, there is only one thing that can satisfy. When I look to the world to satisfy me, I lose sight of that one thing. That one thing is Jesus! He alone is the living water. He alone is the bread of life. He is the one and only thing that can satisfy.

Though my eyes wonder, and I look elsewhere; He is always there.

You would think by now I would have this right. You would think by now I would know that this candy bar will not actually make me feel better. That this bag of chips will not actually fill me up.

One of the biggest misconceptions I think new Christians have is that it’s all downhill once you accept Christ. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s more like a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs and loops and turns. We have an enemy, and he knows how to distract us. He knows how to get us to temporarily take our eyes off God. He knows how to temporarily get us to fall back into our old ways.

But GOOD NEWS! We also have the Holy Spirit on our team. He never leaves us and never forsakes us. He is there convicting us and helping us overcome these stumbling blocks the enemy puts in our path.

The thought that I should have this down now is a thought from the enemy, telling me I am not good enough… telling me that I can do it on my own. Trying to put the focus back on me… and my pride lets him do it too much! I need the Holy Spirit!

Praise God I have somewhere to turn! All I have to do is lift up a prayer. He is there. He listens. He understands.  If only I could ditch this sin nature.

LISTEN CLOSELY! Are you listening? Good. We all have things that we enjoy. ENJOY THEM, BUT do not let them be the source of your comfort or satisfaction. Eventually they will run out, and you will be left empty. The only True Comfort and Satisfaction will be found NOW and FOREVER in JESUS CHRIST!

 

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


Ecclesiastes 1:14

 

Just Like Dad

Every morning I wake my kids up, we eat breakfast, and then I remind them of their morning tasks. “Get dressed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, read your Bibles…”

Wednesday morning as I was reading one of my younger kids her Bible, my boys came running to me. “Mom look, I washed my face just like dad.” I gave a silent thumb up, as I was still reading, but they continued.

“Yep. We ate breakfast, washed our face, brushed our teeth, and read our Bibles- just like dad!” the next boy exclaimed.

It seemed fitting (in light of Father’s Day) to make note of how much my boys look up to their dad. Yes, they are shorter than him (by a couple feet), but in every sense of the saying- they look up to him. They are watching even when we do not realize it.

Honestly, I have been married to the man for almost nine years, and I didn’t know his routine for getting ready in the mornings. But my boys- they did. And they want to be just like him.

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They see everything. And as mom, I get to watch them imitated their wonderful dad. When they walk into a building my children happily hold the door open for everyone. When they meet someone new at church, they look the person in the eye and give a firm handshake before engaging in conversation. When they walk next to their dad they hold their heads high and walk in confidence.

There’s nowhere the boys would rather be than hanging out with dad. If dad ask for their help in the garage, those boys are down there in a jiffy.

What I love most about watching my kids with their dad is the learning that is going on. When they are wrestling, they are learning. They are learning to never give up and keep trying, even though they know they will never actually beat their dad. They are learning to play and poke fun, but to also be aware of each other. If someone gets “hurt,” they are learning to make sure that person is ok and how to bounce back quickly. My kids will never miss out of an opportunity to have a wrestling match with dad because they love it.

When they are working in the shop, they are mostly learning how to clean up saw dust, but there’s so much more. They are learning how to solve problem, how to work through mistakes, how to build, how to fix, how to try to do something new. One of their dad’s favorite saying is, “There are two ways to do things- the right way and again.” Though they are usually just cleaning the shop and hanging out, they are observing their dad’s amazing work ethic and attitude towards household and/or car projects.

No matter what role dad is taking on at the time, he does it with love and care. And the kids see that. Even when they are being disciplined. They know that dad loves them and wants them to be the best they can. They know that dad is consistent and when they mess up, they expect dad’s correction. They know that dad has high expectations for them, and they want to meet those expectations. Because they love their dad.

If there is anyone I would want my boys to grow up to be like, it is their dad. He strives to live a life for God. However, he knows he’s needs the Holy Spirit to do that. He’s not afraid to say that he’s messed up before and is willing to share the lesson he was taught through that. Their dad has never met a stranger. He would talk about Jesus to a complete stranger for hours if the other person were to stay engaged. Their dad has a heart to share the Gospel.  My kids see that!

When my kids walk into the room and see their dad studying his Bible- my kids see that.

When my kids hear their dad singing out Christian Rock music- they hear that and do the same.

When dad messes up and says he’s sorry- my kids see that.

When dad stops what he is doing to say good night and pray- my kids see that.

Faith is not something that we say we have; it is something we live. It’s not just going to church on Sunday; it’s daily walking with Christ. It’s not living by a set of rules; it’s living for Christ. It’s not telling people what they should do; it’s living the way we should to honor God. It’s modeling Christ so all can see the hope we have.

Kids learn what they are taught. Some of it is literal teaching. Some of it is practice and repetition. But all of it is modeled. I am so grateful that my kids have their dad as an awesome teacher and role model. He never strays from the end goal when it comes to parenting- productive Christian adults. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”

My husband is an amazing example of a man trying to walk in faith. Is he perfect- no way! No one is. He works hard to provide for his family, not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well. I cannot imagine the temptations he comes into everyday as he endures work, ungodly people, temptations to slander, temptations to lust, temptations to gossip, temptations to lie and build himself up, and probably a thousand more temptations I’ll never have to witness. But I can tell you he seeks God. He seeks accountability. He admits when he struggles. He seeks others to pray for him.

It is my prayer that the Lord continues to guide and strengthen my husband. That God will keep him on the straight and narrow path allowing him to stand firm when the enemy comes at him. I pray that my children see their dad as he strives to do God’s will and that they are inspired to do the same. I pray for a family on fire for Christ, serving God together, loving God above all things, and seeking His will in every situation.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

 3 John 1:4

Good Guys VS Bad Guys

My kids really like the show “Wild Kratts” right now. As a parent, I like it too. They get to learn about wild life in an entertaining way. Since my kids are into the super hero thing, the good guys verse bad guys approach while applying science couldn’t be more perfect for them.  Yesterday my son says to me, “Mom I like the bad guys in Wild Kratts, but I don’t like the bad guys in real life.”

good bad

Yep, kiddo! I can relate to that. BUT… who are the bad guys in real life? I mean seriously. When we are watching a movie or television show it is obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. We can see the scheming, plotting, lying, and misbehavior. But in real life… its not so easy to see. We are easily deceived. Sometimes we trust people who are untrustworthy. Sometimes we too get caught up in “bad-guy” activity. Sometimes covering up something small seems in the best interest at the time… but then that snowballs…

All we have to do is turn on the news to see this. It’s amazing how two different television stations can air the “same” news story yet leave you thinking two different things. Each station has their own agenda with their own backing. They tell the story through those lenses.

For example, the news back in early 2000s had us all thinking Iraqis and Afghanis were all terrible people and terrorist who wanted to destroy America. We feared them due to 9/11 and the media hype around the situation. But my husband, who served for the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, would tell you most people who lived there just wanted to be left alone. 98% of the population were good people. Those stories were never told, because in order to support the War on Terror, we needed to be scared.

People do the same thing. We all have our own lives. We all have our own agenda… and we all want to be liked. So, sometimes we fall victim to the schemes of the enemy and tell a story from our perspective that stretches a detail here or there, and now we have an innocent person believing a story that has only a little truth in it.

It’s not so easy to see the good verse bad when we are in the midst of it. But here’s the truth: the enemy is not a person. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).” Satan is the enemy and we fall victim to his traps very easily.

This is why we must guard our hearts. We must not fall victim to the traps of gossip, the traps of twisting truths and lying, the traps of building ourselves up while tearing others down.  So many times, when we think good and evil we think war, physical fighting, and murder. But I see the struggle with good and evil as truth verse lies. Wars do not start for no reason. Hate is not built over nothing. Something… or someone starts all that…

The truth is there is one good guy and one bad guy in this world. Obviously, Jesus is the good guy. Everything He does it to bring God glory. Not so obviously, Satan is the bad guy. He puts up little road blocks and detours so that we are led astray. He wants to separate us from God. He wants us to live in the world for the world.  We are either influenced by good or evil, and our actions are an overflow of our hearts. Unfortunately for most of us, we are influenced by both- the good guy and the bad guy. Only we cannot see all the behind the scenes in real life. That is why putting on the Full Armor of God is so important. Arm yourselves with the word of God. Be prepared to stand against the schemes of the enemy- they are coming. You have to be prepared.

Now Jesus and Satan are not equals. Satan was an angel, a created being. Jesus is God. Satan’s equal would be Michael the archangel. One offers us eternity with God in Heaven, the other offers us instant gratification with a hole in our hearts. We all have a longing in our hearts. We are all searching for that something. That something is a peace only God can fulfill. Please remember- this world is not our home. Don’t get comfortable living your life the way you think you should live it. Live your life the way you know God wants you to live it!

I think much like my son, the reason I like the good guys verses the bad guys in the movies is because we know the good guys always win. Well, good news- the good guy has already won! Jesus has already defeated the devil! He crushed his head when He rose from the dead. AND he’s coming back! We know the end- Jesus wins!

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.…”

1 John 5:3-5

The Comparison Trap

Last week I was able to take my kids on an outing that had a huge rock climbing wall! My oldest three happily stood in a long line to complete this task. As they reached the front of the line the workers helped each kid into a harness. Then they went onto the wall. They were happily climbing when my oldest stopped. “Mom, I’m scared.”

“Keep going. Your brother is almost at the top,” I replied.

He looked up. Considered going higher but pushed himself backwards repelling off the wall. Seconds later, his bother rings the bell showing he had reached the top.

As the oldest got down I could see he was disappointed. I told him good job and gave him a high five.

When his brother came down, he was gleaming with a huge smile. I gave him a high five and told him I was proud of him.

My oldest started tearing up. “Mom, you are proud of him and not of me…”

WHAT!!! How did you hear that? I never said that… I never implied that… I never even thought that…“No way kiddo. I am proud of you, but your brother just reached the top! That’s an accomplishment! We need to celebrate it.”

I didn’t mean to create a competition between my boys. I just thought a little encouragement and motivation may help him face his fears. Instead, my son saw that since his brother did better than he did, his accomplishment was nothing.

Man, I do not want my kids to think that! It took me years to realize how badly I struggle with the comparison trap. Hear me closely everyone, Someone else’s accomplishment does not take away from yours!!!

Some competition is good. It is good to be pushed to be your best and to do your best. It is good to learn to win and learn to lose. But these competitions should never affect our self-worth, the value we see in ourselves.

compasion trap

Growing up I struggled with constantly comparing myself to others. As I got older, this had an impact on me. First, emotionally- I cared way too much how people viewed me and sought approval in odd places. It also affected me socially. I was constantly comparing myself to others. So, if I thought another girl was pretty, all the sudden I didn’t feel pretty. Then I was intimidated by her. The next thing I knew I had created a wall in my head that she and I could not be friends. Because of my own thoughts… nothing else.

If someone was better at something than me, I took it personally. If I could not easily get better, I would make an excuse or just quit all together. This is not something I grew out of. In fact, I did not realize I had this problem until I was well into my adult years.

I remember walking into a new church several years ago. There was this nice lady who welcomed my family and me. She helped us check the kids in and walked us to their rooms. She led us back to the main area, and then my husband and I went to find seats. After finding our seats and meeting up with the couple who invited us, I learned who the lady was and what other people thought of her. People thought VERY highly of her, and they all really liked her. Suddenly, I was like, “Wait- why don’t people think this of me?” “I’m better than her at x,y, and z.” I was completely intimidated by her, so I began rationalizing why I was better than her. Instead of recognizing it, I put up this wall up because of what others thought… And their thoughts were all positive. My thoughts were distorted.

The only person this wall hurt was me. I told my husband about it years later. He honestly had no clue these thoughts floated through my head. His response was, “Why?”  Why? That is a good question. And a question I now have the answer to.

The enemy completely had a foothold in my heart. He had apparently had that foothold for quite some time too. I can look back at this situation and see the errors in my ways. “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble (Proverbs 4:19).”

Comparison has cost me relationships. It has cost me time. It has cost me peace. I praise God that he revealed this error in my ways. The only person I need to be comparing myself to is the person I am today to the person God designed me to be.

Part of my struggle with comparison is due to my desire to please man rather than pleasing God. Since I weighed other’s opinions highly, I internalized their positive opinions of others to be negative towards me- which couldn’t be further from the truth. However, as I have learned to see myself the way God sees me, I have been able to stop comparing myself to others and start celebrating them. I have stopped searching for man’s approval and sought to be obedient to God and His plan for my life. I have seen good fruit, a healthy heart, and a peaceful life.

Celebrating someone else’s accomplishment, talents, or value is something we should do. We should build each other up in brotherly (or sisterly) love. Just because someone else painted an amazing picture, does not mean your picture is not good. Just because someone else looks beautiful, does not mean you are not beautiful. Just because someone else is blessed, does not mean you are not blessed.

If you struggle with the comparison trap affecting your life, please know I have been there.  It’s hard to be genuinely happy for someone when you are not fully happy yourself. Please look in the mirror and see what God sees- He sees you- His perfectly and wonderfully made daughter. Be in prayer and ask God for the help you need. What you see as a flaw, God tends to use for His glory!

 

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10