Posts in December 2015

A Heart Like Hers

mary_jesusIt’s Christmastime, and Mary, mother of Jesus, is constantly on my mind. She pops into songs on the radio (even though I loathe “Mary, Did You Know?”), she adorns front yards and window displays of nativity scenes, and she even makes appearances in the YA book I’m currently reading (The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz) – even if it’s only because the narrator is obsessed with the Blessed Mother.

I find it intriguing that the meaning of the name Mary is “bitter,” yet so much warmth and purity is surrounded by that name. Her response to Gabriel shows a unique and humble spirit of willingness. Today, she is honored not only as the mother of Jesus, but also as his very first disciple.

This week I’m diving into Mary’s life. It’s fitting because of the time of year and because I can learn much from what we know about her. It’s my own form of advent, I guess. I’m not saying she was perfect. I know she wasn’t – she’s human. But I do think I can gain insight from her responses.

  • She quickly got over fear.
    Duh. An angel would scare anybody, but she listened intently to his message. I feel like I live every single day afraid of the unknown. I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on anything spoken to me.
  • She didn’t ask many questions.
    But she did ask one really good one – HOW?! And when the answer was “nothing is impossible with God,” she knew she didn’t have to keep questioning. No doubting or speculating.
  • She accepted his will and rejoiced.
    Understanding this was a miracle, and that SHE was chosen for it replaced any hesitations she might have had. I would surely jump to what will Joseph think? Will he believe I didn’t cheat on him?? She praised God and announced her servant-hood. And yet remained humble about it all. No boasting.

As much as I admire her willingness, the concept of Mary’s new motherhood has been a struggle for me. I was so on-edge and nervous during my pregnancy with Wes, and I never related to Mary on that level of “awe” and anticipation. Christmas seems to be a time when people announce pregnancies and family growth – or you find out someone is expecting by simply seeing or running into them. It’s been surprisingly hard on me. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions regarding our family size over the years. Right now it’s particularly low, and I find that I’m actually a tiny bit jealous of Mary’s round belly, and later, her cooing little baby.

It’s no secret that this year has been the pits. I explained to a friend a few months ago that I felt like every pillar of my “house” felt weak and unstable. Usually one or two can (and does) lean a bit, but the rest of the foundation is intact enough that the ground settles within time. For whatever reason, God has chosen to shake things up everywhere in 2015 and test my/our ability to duck and roll with punches.

Speaking of, what were Mary’s thoughts when she saw her firstborn son beaten by the people he came to save? Remember that scene in John 19 where Jesus, while hanging on the cross, introduces Mary to John as his “new mother?” What ran across her mind? Surely she knew it was the end of his life at that point. A couple years ago, Wes had an asthma attack during the Easter weekend, and it scared me to the core. I remember reflecting on Mary’s amazing ability to trust God in spite of the world crashing down around her.

This week and leading up to Christmas Day, I aim to have a heart like Mary’s. It’s tiring to be fearful and sad. I’m sick of worrying and doubting. I desire to be willing, trusting and humble. Full of awe.

My prayer is that I look past this year’s terrible distractions and instead “bring” Jesus into my world by expressing his character, power, forgiveness and grace. He’s the best thing we’ve got.

Posted: December 15th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Decking the Halls

How we spent the evening of December 1.

I’ll preface by saying that I’m in the beginning stages of a sinus infection, groggy and loopy on medicine, and Wes is in a super talkative-to-the-point-of-disobedience mood. And Steven is craving pizza.

Drawing family portraits on paper placemats at the “pizza restaurant.”
Wes asks 356 questions during dinner.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 at 9.33.10 PM

Putting on Christmas jammies in anticipation for season decorating around the house. (Don we now our gay apparel)
Mine from last year shrunk and are now too short in the legs. Wes asks another 15 questions.

Pulling out the Christmas tree.
Steven sets it up in the living room while I find Christmas music on Pandora (“Ugh, not ANOTHER Cold Play holiday song!”). Wes starts to complain that his jammies are too itchy and strips down to his underwear. “Why don’t you go put on some new jammies?” “NO, I don’t want to.”

Finding funny Christmas decor and accessories. (Tis the season to be jolly)
Steven throws Wes a pair of too-small elf slippers and Wes, nearly naked, strives with all his might to put them on his feet. He cries and asks for help. We try to explain that they won’t fit. I find a snowman hat and put it on my head.

Decorating the tree.
Wes helps me put up the lights and strings of beads. Steven battles the tree topper. Wes celebrates getting the slippers to fit his feet. Steven and I exchange glances that say how much we love our funny child without a single word. I find my favorite ornaments and start hanging them up. Wes drops and breaks our Union Jack ornament from Harrods that we purchased during our honeymoon in London.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 at 8.58.00 PM

Cleaning up.
Wes asks a million questions about the delicacy of ornaments. We all sweep the floor. I sob internally and tell myself it’s no big deal and then tend to the dishes that have been sitting on the counter for two days. Steven puts all the boxes away.

Snacking on brownies. (Follow me in merry measure)
We’re all quiet for a few minutes. Snuggles on the couch.

Going to bed. (Fa la la la la la la la)
Wes, still in his underwear and elf slippers, refuses. I send him to Time Out. He apologizes a million times and says “I love you, Mama.” He says goodnight to the Christmas tree, which looks disheveled…and beautiful. We read a Christmas story together. I fix some tea, write this post and look forward to cozy flannel sheets and a book.

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I love this messy, unpredictable little family.

Posted: December 1st, 2015
Categories: Leah
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