Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That's Why Christmas

I'd been given fair warning before the program started, but I forgot to stock my purse with kleenex before leaving home. That's why I stopped for some toilet tissue before the lights went down. You know, just in case. I didn't really expect to use it. I mean, how many church Christmas concerts have I sat through in my thirty-seven years, right? But I prepared myself just the same.

What I had not prepared myself for, however, was the raw beauty of a single moment in that program. I was not prepared to be moved to tears not just once, but twice as I witnessed it again the next night. Same exact concert, same exact auditorium. But I was. Moved to tears, that is. Have you ever experienced something so pure, so perfectly exactly the way it was supposed to be -- that you get overwhelmed to the point of tears? Not anxious tears. Not even happy tears. But tears of true, deep joy that can only be triggered by something so beautiful as little girls singing "Silent Night". Like the tears that filled my eyes as I watched the perfect execution of Irish dancers as they pounded their feet on the stage in front of me the night my husband surprised me with tickets to see "River Dance". The emotion caught me by surprise that night, just as it did at the church Christmas concert last Friday and Saturday. I had not prepared myself to be overcome with the beauty of the whole idea of Christmas as I listened along with the angels to twenty or so little girls singing sweetly about the best thing ever to happen to mankind.

Twenty sweet, beautiful little voices reminding me that, because of Christmas, because of Jesus, I can sleep in heavenly peace. The only real peace. Twenty sweet little voices telling me that, although it was most likely NOT a physically silent night (i.e. virgin woman giving birth -- without epidural!!!, not to mention mooing cows, baaing sheep and freaked out father), all the troubles of this loud horrible sinful place called earth can now be silenced. Every night. From now on. Because Christmas. Thus -- perhaps one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time.

So, what was it about that particular rendition of the song that I'd heard probably hundreds of times before? What was it about that concert that touched me so deeply? Well, I'm sure it had to do with the fact that my daughter's sweet voice was among the twenty. But, more than that, I believe it had to do with my heart. And the silent peace it knows. And how amazingly, awesomely grateful I am to have it. Even when the tumultuous schedule that is often Christmas tries hard to break that silence. Even when the anxious craziness of motherhood presents a barrier to said silence. Even when my four-year-old ends up in the hospital for three days and my husband's job is much less than stable and the wind blows out the electricity and . . .

But silence!

And that's why Christmas! Hallelujah! That is why Christmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bring It!

I've long been intrigued by Mary's reaction to the angel when he broke the news to her about Jesus. I mean, the Bible says in Luke 2 that she was "greatly troubled" by the words, "You ... are highly favored! The Lord is with you." When she heard it, she "wondered what kind of greeting this might be." I have to wonder when I read it if she was suspicious. Or was it, maybe, that her simple and pure humility would not let her just accept it as common knowledge that she was highly favored? I don't know. That's part of the intrigue. The humility that characterizes Mary is something I've always admired and longed for from afar. (Ever hear that humility is a scary thing to pray for?)

The other (quite large) part of the intrigue is that of her reaction when the plan is sketched out for her. Quite simply -- she would somehow be impregnated by the Holy Spirit before giving birth to God Himself in the form of a baby, not to mention having to trust that her fiance would understand, as well as having to wait to enjoy her wedding night until (wait, this one's crazy) after she gave birth to the child from her virgin womb. I write it here and can't fathom or wrap my mind around it. I don't even really know how to use words for it.

So -- how could she?!? And yet, somehow she finds some words. She uses them to respond to this sketchy picture with amazing stability and confidence. It comes out in what are perhaps five of the scariest yet assuring words in the English language "I am the Lord's servant." And she finishes it off with "May it be to me as you have said." Uh-huh! I know! Absolute. Trust. She has just been told that her life as she knows it is about to be obliterated. And she responds with a resounding "bring it!!" (my translation) because she knows Whom she serves. She's grounded in Who she belongs to. She has no doubt Who's in charge. She has no worries about the details (like the whole Joseph believing her thing, and what about her parents counting backwards from the day Jesus is born to figure out exactly when He was conceived). "No worries... I'm God's servant. Bring it!" And wow! Did He bring it or what? And what an adventure she got to take!

Makes me wonder what kind of adventures I've missed when I've failed to respond to one of His nudges with that same humility that Mary had. And it makes me excited to think about all the adventures He has for me as I humbly accept what ever He brings. Unafraid. Absolutely. Trusting. Him. As. My. Lord. "May it be to me as you have said."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Powered by the Caller

"Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation." 2 Samuel 7:17

Without the surrounding context, it seems a verse like this would not naturally be one to extrapolate on. But as I read today's devotional text in 2 Samuel, I found an amazing amount of encouragement in these eleven words.

See, God had just given Nathan the prophet a eleven verses worth of detailed revelation regarding the building of a house for His Name and the building of David's house and line that would eventually be fulfilled in Jesus. And, we're talking some pretty intense stuff. So when I read that "Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation," I thought "how the heck did he remember all of these words?!?" And it was even in the middle of the night!

Then God reminded me that Nathan was His prophet. He was, in fact, called to be a prophet by God Himself. Appointed to the very task. And when God appointed him, He also must have given him everything he needed to do his job correctly.

Well, I don't know about you, but I personally find this piece of truth incredibly encouraging! Because if I'm called and appointed by God to be the mom to the two little girls with whom He has entrusted me, He's going to equip me just like He did Nathan the prophet. With everything I need to do my job correctly. As He intended me to!

Okay, I don't know if Nathan used rote memory or if he took notes while He was listening to the word of the Lord. For all we know, he may have used some pnemonic device. But it truly doesn't matter HOW he did it. The fact remains that he was able to recall "all the words of this entire revelation." And that was his job. Either way, he had the tools necessary to get the job done. And, I'm guessing that he had to work the tools to some extent. Just like this mommy thing requires some (okay, lots of) pretty intense work. But when the work is powered by the Giver of the job, it's possible to do it right!

And, seriously, the fact that it's possible amazes me! So let yourself be encouraged too.

Today, my goal is to look for ways that God has empowered me to do my job as mom well. I hope I find lots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The LIFE That is Motherhood

I'm amazed at the amount of enjoyment I have experienced as a mom recently. I mean, I've held the title for just about eight years, and I've never found myself able to rest in the role like I have in the past few months. If I had to nail down a reason, I think I'd have to say it's the narrowing of focus, the honing of my purpose as a mom, the realizing that being a mom is not just a job. It's my life.

Okay, I read that, and I think it sounds crazy. Of course it's my life! I'm a mom! But, somehow, I've had this mindset since my initiation days into motherhood that this is more like my job, where I put in for vacation time and solicit the elusive "smoke break". And this mindset has convinced me that motherhood is somehow more hard work than job. So I've approached it more as a job than as my life. The one I'm supposed to LIVE, not just WORK through. And, as a result, I believe I've missed something of the true and deep joy that is motherhood. It's almost like I've been spending all these years trying to convince myself and everyone else that I work so hard and so constantly that I need to take every possible opportunity to be away from this work so I can breathe. And, while that is true to the extent that every mom absolutely needs regular breaks, I think I've taken it to some sort of extreme. And somehow I convinced myself that my job as a mom is a sort of waiting game -- I wait until my kids start school full time, and THEN I can fulfill my true calling. The one God has set aside for me. You know, the amazingly unique career that only I can fulfill.

Only, now that I'm taking the time to focus on what motherhood really is, I'm realizing that this is my calling. My true calling. The one God has set aside for only me. Motherhood is not just some incredibly difficult job, which certainly does lack appreciation at times. It is a lifetstyle full of surprises and challenges and absolute fun and enjoyment!

I hope this makes sense. It's not that I've not enjoyed my kids before now. It's just that, as I find and refine my mission as a mom, I'm finding myself enjoying my kids like never before. And my job is more fun too. :)
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