Good Enough

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:43-45 NLT

One of my favorite memories from when I was young has to be standing by my siblings and cousins in my grandparent’s living room reading the Christmas story on Christmas Day.

I have always thought so highly of Mary. How wonderful to be hand chosen. How blessed she must have felt to be picked to birth the son of Christ. The mother of the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, and son to come into our world to save each and every one of us.

Wow. Just wow.

I still think highly of Mary to this day. Of course because she’s the mother of Jesus that gave birth on Christmas Eve many many years ago.

– but also because of her character. For who she was. She was ordinary. Just like all of us. She was one who looked in the mirror and didn’t see much more than just a servant girl, but the Lord saw so much more in her. Just like he does in each of us. Mary never once thought she was worthy enough. She found herself in awe of the fact that He took notice of “his lowly servant girl” to which she called herself. It shows her character. Maybe we can relate to her today.

“For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”

Luke 1:48-49 NLT

She could have questioned God’s will for her life. She could have chosen to live in fear or disbelief. She could have chosen to run and hide. But she didn’t. She came to the realization that she was good enough, and He saw the capability to impact the world through her. God noticed her even when she felt “unnoticeable” and used her for his glory.

As we wrap up 2020 and head into 2021, what if we all strived to be less like the world and more like Mary? Simply believing the Lord is who He says He is, and trusting in His plan. Maybe you do not see much when looking into the mirror, but perhaps this “New Year” you can trust in the Lord and remind yourself that He sees all of your capabilities.

Perhaps next Christmas you can say, I strived to be more like Jesus this year. Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

Highly-Favored

Guest Post by Mrs. Samantha Graber

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

In this translation of Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel announces some very exciting news to a young, poor girl from Nazareth.  Mary not only hears that God favors her, but will also hear that she is chosen to carry the long-awaited Messiah.  God had been silent for over 400 years, and now she is the first recipient of the news that she is to be mother of the God Most High. 

Can. You. Imagine?

I love everything about the Christmas story. I love to study it, to teach it, and to ponder on it. There is so much to unpack in this story of Jesus’ humble entrance into our dark world.   No matterhow many times I’ve read it, reviewed it, or studied it, God always allows me to walk away with another “ah-ha” moment.  I’m so thankful he loves me enough to speak to my heart in ways I can understand!  

The Bible clearly tells us that Mary was highly favored.  However, it doesn’t tell us exactly why. Yes, Mary was hand-chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but Mary was also just a normal, everyday, common girl. She was human and sinful, even at her early age. Therefore, Mary couldn’t have done anything to deserve God’s favor.  He favored Mary, because HE CHOSE TO…not because she deserved it.  It had nothing to do with Mary, but EVERYTHING to do with HIM. She was highly favored and received this unmerited favor as a Grace-gift. 

A Grace-gift. 

Ponder on that for a moment.

A Grace-gift: He wasn’t just blessing Mary with a child, but wasdelivering her through her son.

A Grace-gift: God wasn’t only thinking of Mary, but was thinking of each of us.

We, too, are the recipients of that Grace-gift. A gift of unmerited favor, given by God, through a precious little baby. A baby that was born in a dirty manger, wrapped in dirty clothes, having his first visitors being dirty shepherds. A Grace-gift that would grow and become our sin payment…payment in full for our eternal salvation. 

What a gift! Please unwrap your gift this Christmas. Yes, Mary was highly favored, AND so are you!

Christmas

Guest Post by Mrs. Christle Jenkins

CHRISTMAS, a cozy time of year, where we get under a blanket, drink hot chocolate, watch Christmas movies, all while our Christmas lights are twinkling all around us.

We stay busy decorating Christmas trees, shopping for gifts, and celebrating with family. When I think of the true meaning of Christmas and what we are celebrating, I think of God sending us His Son, Jesus. He is the reason for the season, but sometimes all the distractions of the holiday tend to blur out Jesus, our Savior!

There are so many times I have dreaded Christmas because my mind goes straight to the shopping, the money that will be spent, and the weeks of busyness. I must stop and remind myself that Christmas is about Christ and God’s love for us!

I also think about how God chose a virgin, Mary, to carry His Son. Can you imagine what Mary must have thought? She was favored enough by God to be the mother of Jesus, her firstborn son, and He would be the Savior of the world.

“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Today is my firstborn son’s birthday. This leads me to think about and realize just how much of a sacrifice God made, but also Mary. God trusted Mary enough to handle her son’s purpose in this world. It is unimaginable to me to know that my son, who would be sinless and blameless, would be born to die for the sins of the world. I can tell you with all honesty that my faith would waiver at that moment, but Mary shows a true testament of her faith. She trusted her Lord with her Son. She had to watch him be ridiculed, hurt, beaten, and crucified and keep her faith that He was carrying out God’s purpose.

As a mom I want to try to control and protect my children in every circumstance they face. I want to keep them from hurt, pain, and having to deal with any obstacles that would come against them. But these are the moments that God uses to mold them and help them become who and what He wants them to be. That is where I need to remember the faith Mary had.

I can only teach them to seek the Lord with all their hearts and then have faith that God has their future in His hands. God loves our children more than we do and they belong to Him. He has placed them on this earth to fulfill His purpose for them. They will face adversity, hurt, pain, etc., but we can strive to have the faith Mary had, and God will handle the rest.

Did She Know?

Guest Post by Mrs. Bridget Kirby

Mary, Did you Know?

As a Christian since the age of 7, I have been blessed to experience many Christmases knowing the story of Jesus and how he came to this earth to be my Savior. I have done the “Hanging of the Green” and participated in candlelight services and Christmas pageants. And I have believed. But, it wasn’t until the Christmas of my 30th year on this earth that I truly and irrevocably understood the true “reason for the season.”

It was a Christmas like none I’d ever before experienced. As a new mom, I had a cranky 9-month old baby, crying like he did nearly every minute of every day. What I now know was severe inner ear issues were–at the time–evidence of my failing as a mom. As he dug into all of my christmas decorations with his food-sticky hands and shoved glitter-covered decorations into his mouth, I fought to put the tree up and adorn it with ornaments. I was frazzled, hair in a knot on top of my head, picking up and putting down a crying child, fighting the urge to cry. I wanted this Christmas to be the best of all for my son, but I couldn’t get it all done. What kind of mother couldn’t even get her Christmas tree up for her baby? I had seen all the fabulous Facebook pictures of fabulous moms and their fabulous Christmas decorations in their fabulous matching Christmas outfits. Surely, I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. It was hard. Too hard. The postpartum depression consumed me to the point I almost couldn’t breath. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough.

And that’s when it happened.

Hanging another glass ornament (Don’t worry…I’ve learned my lesson and long since abandoned the glass ornaments!), the background Christmas music filtered through my anxiety-ridden thoughts. “Mary, Did You Know?,” a song I was hearing for what must have been the millionth time, and yet it felt like the first time. I remember staring into the lighted tree as the words began to pour over me and tears began to fall.

And I began to understand.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would 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.

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 the storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

I turned my gaze to my messy baby, crawled over to him, and cried as I scooped him into my lap. And in that moment, my heart was Mary’s heart. For the first time, I truly understood the love and faith in her heart. And the fear she must have felt. She had been given the greatest gift and greatest responsibility of any person in this world–she would give birth to and raise the Messiah, the Savior. She would deliver a child who would deliver nations through his sacrifice——an earthly mother carrying the Son of God. God had entrusted her with his greatest gift. In Luke 2:19, after the shepherds went far and wide to spread the word of God’s promise made truth in the birth of Christ, we are given a small glimpse of Mary as a new mother. God’s Word tells us, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” In another version of the same verse, it says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary pondered what it would mean to be a mother to Christ. She treasured it. And I imagine she worried like any mother would. She knew she would struggle. And that she would fail. Often. And yet, even with knowing how many hard days were coming and what sacrifices she would have to make, even in times when she wondered about her adequacy as a parent and as a human, she had faith that her Father’s promises would carry her through. Because she had the unconditional love of the Father. A Father who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

As I sat clinging to my 9-month old, sticky-fingered baby in front of the Christmas tree that day, I saw the truth of Christmas. It wasn’t in the beautifully-decorated tree or the cute outfits or even in the candlelight services at church; it was in the heart of a mother. Like Mary, even with knowing how hard motherhood would be, how many sacrifices that would need to be made, how many tough days there were on the horizon, I had never known a love like I felt for my baby boy. The same love Mary had felt for her baby boy. But even more than the love of the mother, was the love of our Father who sent his Son to save us all.

https://youtu.be/ifCWN5pJGIE

Mary Mindset

By Mrs. Krystal Nelson

Mary Mindset

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

The holidays are here. To be honest, the holidays snuck up on me this year. Now it is madness until January 1st with weekends filling up quickly. Holiday shopping, hosting family dinners, Friendsgiving, home decorating, the list goes on and on. Every holiday season seems to be a whirlwind and afterwards I’m left exhausted with the feeling that I wasn’t truly present in the special moments I was given. In these times, I think to myself, “am I being a Mary or a Martha right now”?

Martha may have been referred to as a “hostess with the mostest” by her friends, which is a title that I have always strived for. However, it wasn’t Martha’s hosting skills that captured the heart of Jesus. Mary sat at His feet soaking in the moment with her Lord. To Mary, it did not matter if the meal was presented “just so”, if Jesus used a coaster underneath his glass, or if He received the nicest present under the tree. Mary simply presented herself as she was.

I see so much of Martha in myself and I am sure there are times you can relate. Martha scurried about the kitchen, flustered and worried. Comparison truly got the best of Martha’s mind and comparison, my friends, is the root of discontentment. Jesus consoles her by saying, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better.” As the holiday season begins, I encourage you to let go of the Martha inside of you and embrace a Mary mindset. Come to the Lord without all of the fluff. Afterall, he already knows and loves you just the way you are.