Monday, December 13, 2010

The Sign

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~~ Luke 2:11-12 NIV

What does December 2009 and December 2010 have in common for me? Moving.

Last year we loaded up our home of eleven years and moved 430 miles. Yes, in December for my husband had to report to his new job in January. We rented a home in the area we decided we wanted to live for our son to attend school.

After one year we have learned the area, researched the schools, and bought a home. So again we move, but this time only six miles down the road. This move feels a bit easier because I am moving a little bit at a time and I can still see all my stuff. Whereas last year, everything except the absolute necessities was packed securely in boxes.

Interestingly I have been forced to learn something about Christmas I don’t think I would have learned any other way.

Not by choice, these last two years I haven't seen my Christmas decorations. The halls of my home are not decked. I hope the manger scene made the move without broken pieces, but I haven't seen it since I packed it away after Christmas in 2008.

Because of the transition last year and this year, decorations are not the priority. We have a purpose greater than then decorations which is the completing transition. During this time of transition, the focus shifted from decorating, cooking, and purchasing gifts for exchanging with one another to spending time together during the move.

Family gathered together to accomplish a goal but still taking a little time out to celebrate the greatest gift of all -- the Savior. The move has been a sign for me to focus on family.

After the birth of the Messiah, an angel appeared to the shepherds and told them they will find a sign. Not the dashing flashing lights we see as we drive through the neighborhoods this time of year, but a baby wrapped in cloths and placed in a manager because there was no room for them in the inn. The simplicity of the Savior's arrival could have been missed, but the angel told them what to look for.

In the years past, I often have taken the most meaningful things for granted. Such as the smile on my husband's or children's faces when I prepare a delicious meal or snack. Or the joy we share as we prepare food all huddled together in the kitchen. The hugs when wake up in the mornings. The laughter expressed while we pause to play board games.

As of today, the boxes holding my Christmas decorations are waiting in my new garage. After we move furniture this weekend, as a family we plan to put out only a few selected items in our new home just days before Christmas.

Previously I allowed my life at this time of year to become complicated with lots of added stress. Though circumstances have forced me to see the sign and keep to the basics, I hope the simplicity will become a new tradition (but not the moving)!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blessed Hope -- Revisited

Thank God we always have hope in Him. His hope sustains us in whatever situations we face. I find that as I look back, I can see how far God has brought me. Today I share with you a post from two years ago. I can remember where I was and thank God for where I am now!

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:41-45 NIV

After the angel announced to Mary she would conceive the Messiah, she traveled to see her cousin, Elizabeth. As soon as she heard Mary’s voice, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as the presence of the Lord came near her. The Holy Spirit revealed to her that Mary carried the promised Messiah.

This must have been such an exciting moment for both these women who were chosen to be used by God to fulfill His prophecies. Being good Jewish women, they had heard the writing of the prophets read aloud every Sabbath. Though at this time in history, Jewish people had not heard from God through the prophets for approximately 400 years, the fulfillment of the long awaited promise was great news to their ears.

For years the people put their hope in the promises of God. They may have wondered if it would come to pass. Now the One God promised was conceived. God keeps all His promises. Not one has failed to come to pass.

Sometimes it seems as though we wait and wait for a promise, wondering if it will ever come to pass. But God is faithful to keep all His promises. Jesus Christ was born as promised in the writings of the Prophets. He will return again as written in the Prophets. We have that glorious hope. We have Jesus Christ. We have the Scriptures. We have the Holy Spirit.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. ~~Romans 15:4 NIV

All the trials we go through create endurance in us. We have the Scriptures to read for encouragement so we have hope. When I faced a problem, one of my first instincts was (and often still is) to complain about it with whoever would listen, whether it was my husband or an available friend. I’ve had to learn over time and retrain myself to have a new first instinct—to run to the Lord in prayer and read His Word. He provides the answer.

When we receive the answer, then we can run to our loved ones and friends as Mary went to Elizabeth. They celebrated the great news. Let’s spread the good news instead of our frustrations. We have the blessed hope in the Messiah.