I will be a grandmother soon. I have a new object on my table next to my morning spot, a beautiful tiny box engraved with a grandmother and baby.
The giver of this gift understands the gift.
She’s one of many who have told me it is a joy I’ve not yet known.
On this Christmas Eve, I’m thinking about transitions, about changes that are coming with the coming year.
Yesterday and even the day before, I longed for time travel, I longed for Christmas with my children as children, the Christmases like before.
I think I miss the morning most, the mornings they’d wake up to Santa and then the excitement, the surprise, the silly and sweet expressions.
I’m in the 23rd chapter of Luke today, the one that describes the crucifixion.
My eyes are welling up, my nostrils sting with the thought, I believe in the death of Jesus, a man sent from God so that we could be with God. Thank you, God, I believe.
The same Jesus who as a newborn was laid in a wooden feeding trough, being without a safe and warm place to be born.
Mary cradled Him, awestruck over his existence, over how clearly it was God who caused him to be.
It’s not recorded; but, it must’ve been difficult not to intervene, not to come to her son’s defense when they brought him before Pilate and then before Herod who declared he’d done no wrong.
Yet, it was ultimately an angry mob who demanded him be dead.
“but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.”
Luke 23:21-23 ESV
And Mary knew this was God’s plan for her son, still I wonder how she handled it all, had she hoped he’d be spared?
Could someone hear the mercy in his voice, the forgiveness offered in his final moments…could that be enough?
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
Luke 23:34 ESV
She heard Jesus comforting the mourners who followed him. She saw her son being laid on a cross and challenged to save himself from death.
She was not surprised when she saw her son think less of himself and more of another.
She heard him tell the criminal about redemption knew he’d be remembered in heaven.
She heard him tell the women his death had a purpose, a purpose even for them. If there is to be weeping, let it be for what is to come for you, what my death will accomplish for you, for your children.
Let your tears be tears of joy, save them for the elation, the blessing of what will be.
“And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’
Luke 23:27-29 ESV
On Christmas Eve, I’m thinking of the baby, the baby born to save and the babies for me that God made.
I’m pondering last minute little things, tokens that convey my undeniable love. I’m thinking of Mary and the truth we both know, children are a gift from God.
I am certain Jesus knew he was loved, loved and let grow and go.
Children are proof to me of miracles. There’s no way no one could ever convince me that’s not so.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
The 21st chapter of Luke opens with four verses about generosity, about giving more than you might think you should or can.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4 ESV
The remainder of the chapter is like a warning, a warning of how we should watch ourselves and not grow weary. Jesus told all who would listen about how we should live in the world without him until he returns.
“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” Jesus Luke 21:11 ESV
Verses like these often prompt sermons about our worldly life in light of eternity. Speakers and preachers ask us to look around, notice the events that could be warnings, ready ourselves for either eternity through our passing or His return.
Mysterious it is, another mystery of God’s plan in making us and earth; it’s up to us to know with all our hearts it doesn’t end here even if we can’t imagine how heaven will be.
Like the widow who gave her only coins without concern over how she might live, we are to believe in what we can’t be sure of, in what our human minds are too limited to comprehend.
We are too live with eternity in mind, both with anticipation and with self-examination.
Last night my grandson surprised me, called me over to the tree. He added two ornaments, pointed them out to me. The red and white candy canes are not at all consistent with my theme.
But, I’ll let them be, cause me to think about the red, the blood shed by Jesus for me, and the white representing salvation, peace, redemption. I’ll hum the old hymn, “Whiter than Snow”.
I want to live every moment mindful of your mercy Lord.
The rain is falling so lightly now. A minute ago, I opened the back door and there was a warm encircling wind.
Now, I’m so in love with this moment, this moment beside the Christmas tree, the rain coming down again like yesterday.
Different rain than the unceasing one of Thursday. This one, I welcome, I feel it is a cleansing rain.
The geese are flying over, my mama would say, “Here they come.”
Yes, mama I know, today is a new day.
I’m fixated on the silence now I am again serene, I am aware of God with me.
Yesterday’s morning post ended with me thinking of the name, Immanuel, a name of Jesus, “God with us”.
Last night, I told someone I just felt a “darkness” coming down. I had finally settled on what my “one more thing” gifts would be for my children. I abandoned the thought of the grandstanding gifts of excessive and chose the more simple, the needed, the essential.
I sometimes overcompensate. I worry they’re not quite completely sure of my love, or of me.
Shopping was interrupted by a crisis call, 911 had to be called and the response to the crisis and our connection to the one who disrupted our day in a violent demand went on into the night.
There was prayer, prayer alone and prayer with another and prayer coupled with setting boundaries of providing insight to the ER. That is my role.
That is all, I told another and told myself.
I’m not called to rescue, only to provide a way through which many times is to step away, not be the depended upon rescue.
I am satisfied. I’ve done all I can.
Now, I’m thinking of where God was in all of this occurring. Only after the fact am I realizing I should have slowed down, been less frantic and fearful and frustrated.
I wish I had simply paused and breathed deeply in, let my shallow air linger in my lungs and wait, wait, to let my soul override my mind and know without a doubt, He knows, He sees.
He is with us. He is in control.
Love is the life of faith; obedience the life of love. Yea, rather, Christ Himself is the life of the soul. Edward B. Pusey, Joy and Strength devotional
I’m nearing the chapters describing Jesus’ death. In this experience of reading through Luke, I am being reminded of the purpose of His birth, the intention of God in all His son did while he walked on earth.
In Chapter 20, Luke records the questioning of Jesus, the discussions and debates over His authority. They were worried their kingdoms might topple, that the ones they considered their rulers might lose their esteem or that they, the rulers themselves might lose their lofty positions.
“And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.”
Luke 20:26 ESV
They heard Jesus teach with parables and discerned His lesson as a criticism of them. They sent spies to pretend they believed and would follow, only to try and catch him or to convince themselves they were okay, had no need of Him, could stay aligned with Caesar.
Like today, they made complicated what God planned to be simplicity in our belief. Not all of them but some decided to accept, to stop their disbelief,even though they were not yet certain of what was to come, what would clearly justify their belief.
“Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.”
When we believe God is with us, we’re less prone to question. When we return to the places we know we have found Him before, He will still be there.
An opened hand to heaven before my feet hit the floor, the warm wind before the rain begins, yes, He was there.
I’ve seen You move, come move the mountains And I believe, I’ll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I’ll see You do it again. Elevation Music
The 16th chapter of Luke’s book is not so gentle a read. It ends with Jesus telling a rich man who refused God that there’d be no need in a miraculous sighting sent to warn his family of Hell. Jesus tells the regretful rich man, they didn’t believe in Moses, it’s likely they may never believe.
“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
Luke 16:31 ESV
I stood holding hands with family yesterday and prayed. I was asked by my cousin to pray.
It felt a little awkward, family can be that way; but, also a sweet answer because I’d actually thought about it, thought about it on the drive to the gathering, what would I pray if I were to bless the food, to pray?
I consider this God. I consider the way this all fell into place truly sweet, a God thing.
I thanked the Lord for the tradition of our get together, for the good things he’s brought us over the past year, the good things he has brought us to and through, and for the food.
As we released our hands, a circle so wide it covered four rooms, intersected by a kitchen and a hall, everyone was quiet and then our Georgia Christmas meal began.
This morning, I’m remembering intercessory prayer. I’m thinking with certainty how God hears our prayers and how I most likely won’t know how my words offered up a little awkwardly will impact my family members.
Somehow and somewhere, they will.
God hears us when we say them, He always hears our prayers.
The rich man lost his opportunity. He ignored the needs of a poor man who inherited heaven as he focused on his wealth.
“And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”
Luke 16:20-23, 25 ESV
I sat last night making lists and making plans, most of them revolving around money and the assurance over the lack of enough of it.
I thought of how I love giving, love listening and then providing, how I more than anything love giving what is perceived as a “way too generous” surprise.
I’ll review my list today, I’ll squeeze in a shopping trip this week, wrap some new boxes and rearrange them under our tree.
I’m hoping my gifts to my family will be an evidence of my faith, of my peace, of my hope and my finally really believing in mercy and grace.
Talking less about it, acting it out more.
As I sit in my spot, I’m remembering my family, the love, laughter, good fortune and misfortune in the room.
Family can be tough. Everybody knows. All coming from the same people and place, all knowing all our stuff and still, loving one another, even if skeptical over the bumps in our roads and how still, we grow.
I’m thankful for them. I believe I told Him and them so.
Thank you, God, that we are all here.
This year, my hope, my purpose is that my family sees more clearly, that they see me being who I say that I am.
That they see, Jesus.
That they see “why I believe”.
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Chapter 15 is a collection of parables. One, well known and no more relatable than the others, just more often told.
Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees, a captive but cynical audience, three stories about loving lost things, maybe hoping they’d all see themselves, realizing they may be caught in a similar story.
They were condescending and doubtful, remarking that he’s the one who welcomes sinners, has dinner with them.
Jesus had their attention. He told of a man who had a hundred sheep and lost one and how he refused to stop looking until that sheep was back in the fold. He told of a woman frantic over losing one coin of her ten, how she swept every corner of her home way into the night until she found it, found that lost coin.
He used both parables to compare God’s joy when one person, just one comes to Him, or decides it is time to come back to Him.
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:7 ESV
He told about a brother, one of two, who squandered his share of the father’s riches. That father longed for his son’s return and when he returned, the father ran to him. He ran to him!
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20 ESV
Every morning, I return to my morning place. I wait for a moment sometimes or I might just sit. I find Him there quite often.
In the way a word from one book or an email will correlate, complement another.
I wait. I listen to His voice through His Spirit in me.
I sometimes find my eyes wet with tears, others I have to let sink in, the important true lessons for the progression of my faith.
I’m awakened and I’m humbled gently over changes I should make.
It’s a good space, my quiet spot.
I’m found here by Him.
Found and found again.
May you find Jesus this Christmas or may you return to one who’s looking for you, arms wide open saying, “Come back home.”
Advent: arrival, appearance, emergence or occurrence, the arrival of a notable person or thing.
What are you waiting for, still?
What is the light at the end of the way that you keep pursuing, going towards?
Like the shepherds followed a star, is there a possibility you hope to see still?
My word for 2018 has been “still”. In the beginning, it represented a courageous decision to pursue a certain writing goal.
That I could still, it wasn’t too late.
I’m still writing; but, changes came my way and my book idea will never be the same.
I’m in the phase of stillness, resting and listening to know, which way God, do you want me to go?”
Tell me what to say, Lord.
Continuing in the Book of Luke today, another chapter full of guidance and illustration, historical retelling of what Jesus did before he died.
My spirit has been a little weary, thoughts around trauma trying to take over. I’m recalling today that this is the year I, with the help of some strong therapy, decided I could live healed, that I could let go and be healed.
The year it became my choice to forgive.
My friend said yesterday, that evil still comes back to try to play.
I think she’s quite right, it’s Advent, the season of light and peace, it’s only natural evil creeps in, shows up even louder, harder, mean and determined.
Has to, it is harder now than before to take my peace away. I’m no longer disabled.
“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”
Luke 13:12-13 ESV
Able to seek light and freedom, to not revisit the darkness.
To God be the glory for my emergence year, still.
I’m linking up with others here at Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word, “Still”.
Yesterday, the birds were gathering outside the window. I saw their shadows and the way they intersected the sun, a flash and dimming of the light coming in.
I didn’t turn to watch them, I missed their morning dance.
Instead, I was intent on the details, I was recording my fear. There were three nightmares and three pages of journal, trying to decipher the power and realistic terror of each of them.
Now, they’ve faded away, their scariness has passed and their power over my day, finally waned.
Jesus, God’s Son came to eliminate our fears. There’s no fear in love and His love came to take away our fears.
He told the disciples to fear one thing, evil, the authority that keeps us in fear, tries hard to keep our thoughts from heaven, to cast us into Hell.
To keep us kept by our nightmares, our minds pulling out the bad stuff in our sleep and it dancing dirty dances all night long. It is crazy, evil’s power making buried stuff come out to play, to mess with our peace , to derail our good days.
It is evil.
Jesus said fear is never from me, be assured, you’re worth so much to me.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7 ESV
There’s no fear in love.
Grief, like a terrible nightmare makes me afraid, a different and try as I might, unavoidable afraid.
Christmas comes with grief. It would be wrong not to long for those we lost; yet, that longing turns to sadness. We imagine times when we’d all love to just sit around and laugh and be happy over our happy times with those we miss, those we loved. It’s not that simple, that simplifying of grief.
All the more reason to draw near to Jesus, no masks are worn in His presence. He alone sees our anxious and sad, pretending not to be, hearts.
Do not be afraid. He knows grief sometimes feels like fear.
“”Fear not, little flock.”
Luke 12:32 ESV
No one ever told me grief felt so like fear. C.S. Lewis
I avoided the dancing birds. I was hoping not to see the red bird. I longed to see them most days, but, for a little while I felt different than before.
The bird rushing past my work window, a flash of brilliant red or the subdued female hue, I looked away.
This time avoiding the reminder that it’s not really you, only symbolic of you, my father and my mother.
I’ll see them again I know and I’ll accept the gift of their appearing.
A gift of love, a gift that holds no fear.
If I listen closely I might hear “Stop being afraid, Lisa Anne” and I may see my daddy looking over at her before nodding a yes, quietly and simply nodding “yes”.
Late getting home yesterday, I caught just a glimpse as I turned the sharp curve at the top of the hill and I asked in a whisper to no one at all.
To me, “Have you seen the crescent?”
Closer to our driveway, it was unavoidable, the way its placement rested above the turn into my home.
My eyes get moist and there’s a shift in the breath in my lungs, I call to mind me as a little girl. Im in the little tan station wagon and we’re going back home.
They tell me I’m wrong and I refuse to not believe it, I know the moon is following me home.
I know I can count on it to be there.
As a child, I was a seeker and still today, I seek it, am enthralled by it, all the places of light that tell me to keep going, keep seeking, you’ve only seen just a tiny bit of what is to be, what is still there.
Jesus told of someone who needed help and was ignored. He told of how this person refused to stop seeking, refused to give up, believed there was help on the side of the unopened door. And there was eventually, there was help and hope for the one who kept knocking on the door, seeking.
“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?
I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Luke 11:5-9 ESV
The shepherds followed a brilliant star to the place it illuminated the manger.
Last night, the crescent moon and the star I call “Mama”, they were waiting for me to see.
The house is empty and rain has not stopped falling. I’ll be in for most of the day, maybe all day.
I’m not rushing out the door. I believe it’s okay to stay home instead.
I’m doing better this year, happy with wrapping as I go, not anxious, not nearly as anxious as the years before.
This morning, I return to the Book of Luke. I could linger long and not decide which verses I love most, which I need the most and which ones I am beginning to truly understand.
Understanding God’s word cannot be rushed. It’s a beautiful and profoundly unexpected epiphany after epiphany.
I don’t know how I ever lived without it.
Luke has me unable to share in a way this book is worthy of revealing here on this place I use to write.
I’ll hint here, hopefully compel others to read, the importance of Luke, Chapter 8.
Jesus welcomed women who had been used, harmed, or were otherwise damaged, labeled damaged goods.
Jesus was a fascinating and purposeful storyteller, he told stories to engage others, to draw them near through relatable commonalities.
Jesus convicts us and leads us to self-examination. What are you doing with your “seeds” the gifts you have that God who created you, gave you, gave you good things to share?
Are you wasting them, scattering occasionally and then forgetting you left them there? Are you losing sight of them, not caring for them and allowing your thorny choices and character flaws to choke them to the point of uselessness, maybe even death, never a difference at all.
What about your light? Do people know you’ve got the light of God’s love in you or do you just figure you’ll keep it to yourself, it’s not your business to be a show?
Jesus prioritized His calling, said all of humanity was meant to be His family, He took no opportunities to rest with his family, I suppose they knew it would be so.
Times will come that shake us. We should remember the storm and the boat and how Jesus slept through it only to be awakened by the terrified disciples. He then calmed them and the storm; but, questioned their faith, the faith that by now they all, we all should know!
He cared about the mentally ill, he healed a man overtaken by demons.
He was open to interruptions. He was not bothered by a change in his schedule. He’d been summoned to heal a little girl who was dying. He made his way towards the family through all the curious spectators. Something brushed against him. It was a woman who’d been having her period for twelve years, twelve years of being ashamed, of being a prisoner of her womanly calamity. It’s not a pleasant thought. I would have hidden at home too. But, she had heard. She heard of the women with infirmities who now sojourned with him, they’d been sinful and sorrowful women before; but, no more. She must’ve been hoping for that “no more”. Jesus felt her touch and she felt His. She was healed. Jesus said to her the same thing he wants to tell us all. It may be my favorite line. “And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:48 ESV
Do you have a Bible? Find the Book of Luke there or with an app on your phone.
Luke was an intellect, a researcher, a writer who made sure of his story before he wrote it.
Advent is teaching me, this thing I’ve called my Advent Experience is teaching me, comforting me, changing me.